Tesla's Yoke Steering Wheel: A Price Surge and its Controversial History

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla raises the price of the yoke steering wheel
Tesla raises the price of the yoke steering wheel
Tesla

Tesla has once again made a price adjustment, which may be an understatement. The once-standard yoke steering wheel, already a topic of much debate, has seen a dramatic price surge. Now pegged at $1,000 in the US, the yoke option has experienced a staggering 300% hike from its earlier price of $250. This increase isn't just limited to the US; similar surges have been reported in global markets, including Canada, China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Delving Into the Yoke's Origins

From its inception, Tesla's yoke steering wheel was a departure from the norm. Featured in the refreshed Model S and Model X, this design choice was met with enthusiasm for its futuristic appeal and criticism for its perceived impracticality. Elon Musk championed the yoke, highlighting its unobstructed dashboard view. However, the lived experiences of early adopters painted a different picture. Without a steer-by-wire system in place, many found the yoke's utility in regular traffic and tight maneuvers challenging.

However, the steer-by-wire system is not dead. Steer-by-wire technology eliminates the mechanical linkage between the steering and the vehicle's wheels. Instead, steering inputs from the driver are converted into electronic signals, which are then processed by the vehicle's computer system to control the wheels' direction. Tesla got a patent for the system in June. Perhaps it is ready to go, and the yoke will be a major piece of the new system.

Responding to the Users

Despite Elon Musk's initial proclamation that the yoke was here to stay without the possibility of a round steering wheel alternative, Tesla's adaptive approach shone through. Ceding to user feedback, the company introduced the round steering wheel. Initially, this wheel became the default choice. Those partial to the yoke design could opt for it without additional costs. But as time passed, Tesla began charging for the yoke, shifting from a standard to a premium accessory.

Tesla Price Rollercoaster

Just a few weeks ago, the Standard Range Model S and Model X debuted, only to be discontinued shortly after. But that wasn't the end of the shake-up. The automaker slashed prices on its flagship vehicles, with the Model S Long Range now priced at $74,990 USD, marking a 15% reduction, and the Model X Long Range at $79,990 USD, an 18.7% cut. It also made all the paint options free and cut the price of the Full Self-Driving software by three grand.

The rationale behind the yoke's recent price escalation remains speculative. Is Tesla positioning it as a luxury component? Are they trying to compensate for their recent slashes in other product prices? Or is there a more strategic motive behind this change? With ongoing quality concerns and anticipated software improvements, including a yet-to-be-released horn function, some believe Tesla might be nudging consumers away from the yoke. At the same time, it may also set the stage for introducing a steer-by-wire system.

The yoke steering wheel's journey from its inception to its current pricing dynamics underscores Tesla's willingness to adapt to feedback - good or bad.

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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