Why Tesla’s ‘Yoke’ Steering Wheel Is an Expensive and Potentially Dangerous Development

Tesla's sudden and unprompted introduction of yoke steering, a Formula 1-inspired steering wheel design, to their Model S received a mixed reaction when it debuted in 2021.

Despite the yoke's lukewarm reception, Tesla is still offering it as an option for $1,000. It adds a bit of flair to the vehicle, lending it a racing-inspired, sci-fi dimension.

Too bad Teslas are not Formula-1 race cars.

Is Yoke Steering an Issue?

Upon Tesla debuting yoke steering, critics pointed out that just because the yoke served Formula 1 cars well, that did not mean it would be a favorable development for regular vehicles.

Formula 1 cars have different turning radiuses than regular cars, so their steering ratios have a different lock-to-lock rotation. Teslas require multiple steering wheel rotations to go from lock to lock, which creates issues for turning and driving – especially when drivers are not used to a third of their steering wheel being absent.

Trying to turn in tight quarters with the yoke can result in some clumsy driving. Anyone with nightmares about parallel parking will unlikely embrace driving with yoke steering.

Even better, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration never officially approved Tesla's yoke steering. Apparently, the NHTSA does not have to approve new steering wheel developments from car manufacturers because the responsibility of making sure these features adhere to safety standards is on the manufacturer. How assuring. 

On the more positive side, some people have pointed out that removing the upper third of the steering wheel allows for better visibility of the instrument cluster.

Tesla's Strange Pricing Game.

Tesla made the yoke an optional feature for $250 following its rocky reception, even though many of their Model X and Model S vehicles were already sold with the yoke steering feature.

Around this time, Tesla began offering to replace yoke steering with standard round steering wheels for a $700 fee. So Tesla owners, who never wanted yoke steering in the first place, had to pay to get the standard steering wheel they initially wanted.

But for Tesla owners willing to embrace the novelty of yoke steering, the price to have this feature installed has been raised to $1,000.

Tesla's Yoke Future. 

Elon Musk has said that the yoke feature is here to stay. Recent looks at Tesla's hotly anticipated Cybertruck show an updated yoke-style steering feature at the helm, confirming Musk's commitment.

The company has not announced if the Cybertruck will come equipped with a standard steering wheel option. Though with the Cybertrtuck finally being released soon, announcements about alternative features should be announced shortly, unless Cybertruck deliveries get delayed again.