Customer Feedback Made Tesla Add Round Steering Wheel To Model S/X

Tesla is known for its approach to continuously develop and update its products instead of waiting for yearly cycles like most automakers. 

The EV maker manages to improve its cars frequently thanks mostly to over-the-air (OTA) software updates. But the automaker doesn’t shy away from making physical updates to its cars when something needs to be corrected.

The recent decision to offer a traditional steering wheel again on the refreshed Model S and Model X is a good example, and Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen shed more light on that decision-making process when talking to Ryan McCaffrey on the Ride the Lightning podcast.

Asked if customer feedback was behind Tesla’s decision to give customers the option to choose between a round steering wheel or steering yoke, von Holzhausen – who is a big fan of the yoke and would like to see it on the Cybertruck as well – confirmed that was the case.

“I think it was just making sure that we had a car that people really loved. And if somebody loved the car but the yoke was in the way, we want to just remove that obstacle.”

Gallery: 2021 Tesla Model S

This sounds like the logical thing to do in a situation like this, and it’s refreshing to hear from a top-level executive that Tesla values and acts upon customer feedback.

There are certainly many Model S and Model X fans out there who love the cars but hate the steering yoke, and it did not make much sense for Tesla not to give them the option of a traditional steering wheel, especially as the yoke was clearly a deal-breaker for some of them.

While the yoke is clearly polarizing, the capacitive buttons on it that include functions such as the blinkers and the horn are also opinion-splitting. However, Franz von Holzhausen did not say whether Tesla plans to offer steering wheel stalks again as alternatives for the capacitive buttons.

Mind you, he did say during the same podcast that the Model 3 and Model Y will likely not get stalkless systems like the Model S and Model X because Tesla has so far not seen a need or a demand to change the systems in the vehicle today.

This begs an obvious question: why has Tesla introduced stalkless steering systems on the Model S/X to begin with? 

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