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The Tesla Yoke-Like Steering Wheel Is Legal, at Least in Some Territories

If Tesla wants to reinvent the wheel – the steering wheel, that is – it can do so and still have its cars remain road-legal. At least, as far as the UK and the Netherlands are concerned.
The new yoke in the Tesla Model S and X is legal in the UK and the Netherlands 22 photos
Tesla proposes a stalkless, yoke-like steering instead of the usual steering wheelTesla proposes a stalkless, yoke-like steering instead of the usual steering wheel2021 Tesla Model X facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model S facelift2021 Tesla Model X facelift2021 Tesla Model X facelift2021 Tesla Model X facelift2021 Tesla Model X facelift
Last week saw a much-hyped refresh of the Model S and Model X, which included upgrades both to the design and the performance. Among the former was the apparent removal of a rounded steering wheel, which will be replaced by yoke-like steering. Reactions to it ranged from awe to shock and, ultimately, disbelief that this switch was legal.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) addressed this supposed lack of legality, saying in a statement that they had no idea whether a yoke for steering would be allowed on the roads, in more or fewer words. “At this time, NHTSA cannot determine if the steering wheel meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. We will be reaching out to the automaker for more information,” read the exact statement.

While the NHTSA is figuring this out, two pieces of good news come from Europe. As per the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport, the yoke is legal in the UK – just like are forks and handlebars for cars. It's also legal in the Netherlands, with the Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer (Department of Road Transport - RDW), which supervises vehicle and driving licensing, registration, and control in the country, saying that the shape of the steering wheel is nowhere specified in EU or UNECE legislation, as reported by Teslarati.

The issue of the lack of stalks on the steering column is an entirely different matter, though. As shown in photos in the online configurator, the yoke has turn signals and lights on a button on the wheel. However, for shifting gears, the car would “guess” the direction you want it to go in, Elon Musk said on Twitter, which made stalks redundant. “No more stalks,” he declared, adding that the option could be overridden on the touchscreen display.

 
 
 
 
 

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