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Electric vehicles (EVs) are a constantly evolving technology, and automakers innovate to keep EVs fresh and attractive to shoppers. Tesla is famous for doing just that, with elegantly simple interiors devoid of busy physical button layouts. However, one of Elon Musk’s innovations was met with mixed reviews: the Tesla yoke steering wheel. Check out the steering wheel that divided fans and stans

What is a yoke steering wheel?

A yoke is a steering and control part popular in aviation and motorsport. Instead of a 360-degree wheel, a yoke will have surfaces at the nine and three o’clock positions without anything to grip at the top or bottom of the wheel. 

Elon Musk decided to install this OEM yoke steering wheel in Tesla EVs.
Tesla yoke steering wheel | Tesla

Part of the advantage of installing a yoke in a car is visibility; without a larger wheel in front of the driver, more of the instrumentation and digital displays are unobstructed.

Is a yoke steering wheel practical?

Using a yoke in a car instead of a wheel seems cutting-edge, but it’s not as practical as a steering wheel. Short of pilots and racing drivers, most operators have little to no experience with the partial wheel application. 

As a result, many drivers may not be able to handle a Tesla with a yoke safely. Of course, practice makes perfect, and safely piloting a yoke-equipped car is a matter of comfort and familiarity. After all, it’s just a segmented steering wheel.  

Moreover, Tesla’s implementation of the yoke has also generated questions about material quality. For instance, The Drive says some drivers have complained about flaky coatings in as little as 4,000 miles. 

Why did Tesla change the steering wheel?

In the case of Tesla’s adoption of the yoke steering wheel, founder and CEO Elon Musk was an instant proponent. On the subject of the change, Musk said, “yet another round wheel is boring and blocks the screen.”

Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla refused to offer the Model S and range-topping Model X with a standard, familiar round wheel. “FSD in panoramic mode looks way better with a yoke,” Musk said of the visibility and user experience with the partial steering wheel instead of a conventional rounded surface. It’s difficult to argue with that; the implement does eliminate obstructions from the displays in front of the driver.

Is the new Tesla steering wheel optional?

Fortunately, Tesla fans can opt for a conventional steering wheel in a new Tesla. According to Not A Tesla App, Elon Musk and Tesla are now offering Tesla EVs with an option of either a yoke or rounded steering wheel instead of mandating the yoke.   

Can you change the Tesla steering wheel?

For owners who have already purchased a Model X or S with a yoke-style steering wheel, Tesla has a round wheel retrofit option. It costs $700 and replaces the aviation-inspired surface with a vegan leather wheel. 

What do you think about the part? Did Tesla try to reinvent the wheel unsuccessfully? Tell us about your thoughts in the comments below!


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