Tesla may implement steer-by-wire next year

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla's yoke steering wheel in the Model S
Tesla's yoke steering wheel in the Model S
Tesla

The development of steer-by-wire systems, or drive-by-wire, is quickly making the traditional steering wheel obsolete. These systems remove the direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the tires, instead sending signals to steer.

This advancement has been on Tesla's radar for some time, and a well-known Tesla watcher believes they will debut it in their Model S and Model X in 2023.

Chris Zheng, who has insight into Tesla's supply chain now thinks Tesla may be looking to implement steer-by-wire in the Model S and Model X. He tweeted: Looks like Tesla will have Steering by Wire in 2023, at least the Model S/X? Consider their Yoke steering wheel.

Steer-by-wire

The yoke wheel was revealed along with the new Model S in the summer of 2021. While it has a unique look and may up the cool factor of the car, many observers were not fans of the wheel. The shape does not allow for any hand-over-hand steering, and it can lead to completely crossing the driver's arms for tight corners.

However, this design would be perfect for a steer-by-wire system and it may have been Tesla's plan the entire time.

Steer-by-wire system compared to a traditional mechanical system
Steer-by-wire system compared to a traditional mechanical system

Elon Musk responded to the criticism of the yoke while addressing the drive-by-wire system. In a tweet dated June 17, 2021, he tweeted: I’ve been driving with the yoke for a while & it’s great imo. Progressive steering would require complex gearing or drive-by-wire without direct mechanical link. Will aim for that in a few years.

A lot has happened since that tweet was posted. The competition in the EV sector has jumped significantly, and Toyota, which is late in the electric vehicle market, got the drive-by-wire first. The system appeared in renders later in 2021 and is now in the 2022 Toyota bZ4x and the 2023 Lexus RZ450e. Surely, this has moved Musk’s “few years” goal up by a year or two.

Advantages of Steer-by-wire

There are many reasons why Telsa would ramp up the production of steer-by-wire. Firstly, the company is continuously looking for ways to reduce parts in the vehicle and therefore speed up the production time. Taking the steering column out, which connects to the universal joint before getting to the rack-and-pinion system, would save some manufacturing time.

Secondly, drive-by-wire delivers a much smoother drive as the steering wheel is no longer connected to something that is on the road. The wheel would not vibrate or pull-on uneven surfaces, making it safer for many drivers, especially those with disabilities or senior citizens, to operate the car.

Finally, the advanced system reacts to several variables to produce a precise steering ratio. That means if you are making a tight turn at slow speeds, perhaps in a parking lot, you would not have to rotate the wheel as much; in fact, it would eliminate hand-over-hand steering altogether.

While the yoke-style wheel wasn't a hit to start, it is perfect for a steer-by-wire system. With competition heating up in the EV market, Tesla is sure to implement this innovative technology sooner rather than later.

Tesla Begins Testing FSD in China

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla was recently granted permission to test FSD on Chinese streets – specifically in Shanghai. Just recently, Elon Musk visited China and discussed the potential for FSD to come to China.

Gearing Up for FSD China

This is just the first step for Tesla to begin its customer deployments of FSD – Tesla conducts similar ADAS testing in North America, where special testing vehicles and testing employees run the latest FSD (Supervised) versions against a gamut of real-world, real-life tests.

Tesla has recently been working on translating FSD release notes into multiple languages, alongside building a data center in Shanghai and establishing an FSD Operations and Labelling team at the same center. These are the first, key steps to bringing FSD to a new market that has unique and different traffic rules when compared North America.

China doesn’t have the regulatory hurdles or challenges that Tesla faces in Europe to bring FSD and has been working with Chinese corporations as well as the government, which has now provided its official approval for FSD testing in-country.

We might even see FSD deployed to early testing customers in China by the end of 2025.

ADAS Competitors

There are quite a few competitors in the Chinese market already- with challengers like Xpeng and Xiaomi working on building their own homegrown systems, mostly driven by a mixture of cameras, radars, ultrasonic sensors, and LIDAR. However, many of these systems face similar challenges to other non-Chinese competitors and don’t have the mileage under their belts to tackle Tesla’s dominating lead in data and data processing.

European Union

Tesla is poising itself for an FSD rollout internationally, with increased testing also taking place in the UK, France, and Spain – some of the key locations with unique infrastructure in the European Union. However, some EU-specific regulations restrict how FSD can perform – each and every action must be manually approved by the driver. Until that regulation is changed to adapt to systems like FSD, it won’t be making its way there just yet.

Tesla Cybertruck to Receive Charging Improvements in Upcoming Update

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Former Tesla VP of Powertrain and Energy Drew Baglino previously mentioned that Cybertruck would be receiving charging improvements soon.

Wes Morrill, Tesla’s Cybertruck lead engineer, recently reposted Baglino’s comments on the charge speed update on June 16th and mentioned that it would be coming soon via OTA.

Charging Improvements

The 4680 cell has seen some difficulties in its charge curve, similar to Tesla’s other vehicles that have been deployed with the 4680. Tesla has alluded to difficulties in the manufacturing curve previously, and also with engineering improvements to the new cell standard, and eventually stopped manufacturing the Model Y with the 4680 cells.

However, this is the first time that Tesla has begun to deploy major improvements to the 4680 cell. It appears the improvements will allow up to 154 miles to be recovered in 15 minutes, which is approximately a 30% improvement to current charge rates.

We’re hoping that these improvements to the 4680 will also translate to older Model Y vehicles that have 4680 cells, which will be key to the owners of these vehicles. 4680 production is currently mainly focused on Powerwall, Megapack, and Cybertruck – with Semi not using 4680 yet.

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