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 Chief Designer Says His Favorite Vehicle Is Yet to Come

By Kevin Armstrong
The Tesla Roadster 2.0 could be Tesla's next vehicle to hit production
The Tesla Roadster 2.0 could be Tesla's next vehicle to hit production
Tesla

Tesla's Chief Designer, Franz von Holzhausen, has designed the company's entire fleet of vehicles, but the Model S, 3, X, Y, Cybertruck and Semi are not his favorites. "My favorite one is the one that is coming.

I can't talk about (it)," von Holzhausen told CNBC. He then quickly pivoted the conversation away from that topic. Nevertheless, several rumored vehicles will be the next to carry the "T" logo. So, which one is the creative mind of Tesla referring to in his evasive answer?

Franz von Holzhausen Interview

Let's start with the suspects. A cheaper, smaller and less expensive electric vehicle has been predicted for years. More recently, there have been ideas about a van. And then there is the second generation of the highly anticipated Roadster. While von Holzhausen didn't talk about the next one, he did give some clues later in the interview. "My all-time favorite car is a '62 250 GTO (Ferrari). I mean, it is quintessential. It's an insane car. I'm also a big fan of this kind of wedge era. The early (Lamborghini) Countachs, the whole kind of flat, low sports car. Those were always the posters on my wall."

The Designer Loves Sports Cars

When a 54-year-old man reminisces about the cars featured in posters plastered on his wall when he was a kid, he is not excited about a van or a compact vehicle — no, he is excited about a sports car. The second-generation Roadster was unveiled in 2017 simultaneously with the Semi. But there hasn't been much mention of the sports car since. The company is just now delivering Semis, and Cybertrucks are expected in 2023, but the Roadster doesn't have an ETA. Or does it? The chief designer says, "… the one that is coming." So, we can only assume that the Roadster is next to hit the production line.

Tesla Roadster 2.0

A Designer Who has Changed the Industry

One of the first employees of Tesla back in 2008, von Holzhausen, recalls the early days and how things have changed. "There is a moment that I thought when I first joined Tesla that it would be great to see multiple Teslas in one drive experience around town. And now, it's hard to go anywhere without seeing a bunch of Teslas. So, it's great to see the impact that Tesla has had in people's lives but also how it's changed the industry. It really pushed this idea that an EV can be better than an internal combustion vehicle."

He also gave some insight into designing vehicles that have and continue to change the auto industry, "Tesla isn't beholden to what has been done in the past. We are always trying to push the boundaries and deliver on a promise of something fun, something enjoyable and something you would love to own and tell your friends about."

It looks like The Roadster could be the next fun, enjoyable vehicle to tell everyone about.

Tesla's 2023 Model 3 'revamp' is for cost-cutting, not a redesign

By Lennon Cihak
Tesla's revamping its Model 3 vehicle
Tesla's revamping its Model 3 vehicle
Tesla

Tesla’s gearing up for a small "revamp" of its popular Model 3 vehicle, which is set to go into production in the middle of 2023.

According to Reuters, the revamp is called “Project Highland” and aimed at lowering the production costs and increasing the Model 3’s attractiveness and not because it needs a redesign. The Model 3 was launched back in 2017, and Tesla has already sold well over 1 million of them.

According to our sources, don’t expect a design overhaul of the Model 3, though. Instead, Project Highland will focus on reducing the number of components and complexity of the Model 3’s interior.

The main goal of this Model 3 revamp is to increase manufacturing efficiencies and reduce costs. Tesla would like to get the Long Range and possibly the Performance variants of the Model 3 to qualify for the US tax incentive for 2023. Under this tax credit, manufacturers’ suggested retail price for brand-new sedans must be less than $55,000. For SUVs, trucks and vans, the maximum price is capped at $80,000.

Our previous evaluation of the vehicles that would qualify include the Model 3 RWD, Model Y Long Range (AWD), and Model Y Performance. However, this will likely change once the revamp goes into production.

Do not expect new vehicle features to be added to the Model 3, such as a rear display, air suspension, or ventilated seats. These features would raise the price of the Model 3 and create a significant overlap between the Model 3 and the refreshed Model S.

Yoke Steering Wheel

One new feature that is possible in this Model 3 revamp is the introduction of a yoke steering wheel or more likely, a wheel similar to the Tesla Semi, which has capacitive controls and no stalks. The stalks are replaced with capacitive controls on the steering wheel and touch controls on the vehicle's display. We previously reported on this rumor in August.

Redesign Rumors

A few rumors are floating around online including a redesigned front bumper and removal of door handles in exchange for touchless doors like the Cybertruck and Roadster 2.0, although our source tells us that this is cool, but not accurate.

The revamped Model 3 is likely to remain without its ultrasonic sensors, as Tesla is beginning its transition to its own Tesla Vision. This technology uses the vehicle’s onboard cameras and vast amounts of data from the neural net to function.

Over the past few years, Tesla has made significant efficiencies in the way it builds and manufactures vehicles. Recently, the Model Y switched to a single-mold front casting. This requires 169 fewer pieces and 1,600 fewer welds. To achieve this, Tesla is using its Giga Presses at its Berlin Gigafactory.

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View the release notes for the upcoming version 2022.44.2.

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Take a look at features that Elon Musk has said will be coming soon.

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