Last week, Tesla revealed a comprehensive update for the Model S and Model X and if you can look past all the insane performance specifications of the Plaid and Plaid Plus models, it is the revamped interiors of the duo that have triggered the most headlines.
The highlight is the yoke-style steering wheel of the new models. Not only is its shape rather bizarre but it lacks traditional buttons and stalks. That’s interesting, as the pre-facelift Model S and Model X, as well as the Model 3 and Model Y, have column shifters. So how do you shift in the new Model S and Model X? Elon Musk has the answer.
Responding to a tweet asking just that, Musk revealed that the EVs can automatically select drive and reverse by using the vehicles’ cameras, sensors, and navigation system. He added that drivers can override this system with controls through the touchscreen.
No more stalks. Car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context & nav map. You can override on touchscreen.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021
Just how well will Tesla’s systems work to automatically shift between drive and reverse? That remains to be seen, but the system could be tested in poorly-lit parking garages where a GPS signal can be dodgy at best. Given how quickly EVs accelerate, drivers will need to be careful when doing slow-speed maneuvers, lest they crash into a wall or another car.
Like with the yoke, there is also a question about the legality of such a system. Motor Trend recently reached out to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to see if it is legal to not have a traditional gear selector but has yet to hear back. Even if such a setup is deemed legal in the U.S., Tesla could face regulatory hurdles in other countries where the updated Model S and Model X will be sold.