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Tesla's new steering wheel raises more safety questions

Tesla’s new steering wheel raises more safety questions

Consumer Reports testing reports a number of anomalies when using the new Tesla Model S steering wheel. Its new shape presents a small problem.

One of the most controversial innovations in the modernization of the Tesla Model S was its steering wheel, which completely surrendered to traditional forms and at first glance resembled a stick from old aircraft. He may not care much about the promised start of independent procedures, but it does raise questions about security so far.

The US NHTSA, which handles other matters of vehicle safety, announced in January, for example, that it would only address the safety of the new steering wheel directly with the car manufacturer. Colleagues from Consumer Reports did it differently, they bought their new Tesla Model S and decided to try a new steering wheel for themselves. Impressions are completely contradictory.

After all, the test title is “New Tesla Yoke steering wheel shows small advantages and potential safety hazards,” but they added in the test that it’s not entirely impossible to get used to the new steering wheel. Unlike the classic, however, it has a number of major or minor flaws.

The first and most obvious is the peculiar grip during sharp turns, when the driver is greatly complicated by the classic grip on the steering wheel and there is a real danger that it will slip out of his hands. This is doubly true when maneuvering in parking lots or when leaving the driveway.

Behind the wheel of the Model S, 10 Consumer Reports took turns, some of whom also complained of faulty steering wheel grip. His shoulders are obviously very strong and people with small hands have a hard time gripping the steering wheel. On long trips, the steering wheel allegedly does not provide a very comfortable grip and your hands may start to hurt. Even if you use the autopilot function.

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Perhaps the worst news is that the turn signal, horn or wiper controls are integrated directly into the steering wheel paddles. Unlike conventional steering column levers, which the new Model S no longer has, the new solution is counter-intuitive, requires the driver’s attention and often leads to unpleasant and potentially dangerous situations.

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When turning the steering wheel, one of the buttons may be accidentally pressed, which leads to accidental horns, windshield washer, and even turn signals in the turn. In addition, as the steering wheel is rotated, the position of the buttons changes, which makes finding them and pressing them correctly easier and more difficult. And this can be risky, for example, when you have the opportunity to avoid a risky situation by blowing the horn – but instead of pressing the center of the steering wheel, you have to quickly look for the button.

The settings for the turn signal buttons also had a strange effect on the test device. When gently pressed, the steering wheel vibrates and the turn signals simply flash three times. After a longer press, the steering wheel vibrates twice and the turn signals flash until you press the button again. In the end, the absence of the turn signal levers posed a greater challenge than the new shape of the steering wheel.

But in the end, it brings at least one advantage, although the question is how important it is. The absence of the top of the steering wheel makes it easy to see stimuli from the car, regardless of the driver’s position behind the wheel. However, this feature is slightly erased if you still have to look for the right button on the steering wheel.

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But the test of colleagues from Consumer Reports does not end there. They will continue to subject the new Tesla Model S to various tests, during which they will simultaneously monitor how quickly they get used to the new controls. Maybe in the end he will change his mind.