When the refreshed Tesla Model S dropped earlier this year, the steering yoke was a massive source of controversy. Steering a car makes parking difficult, eliminates a comfortable position for your hands to rest, and is questionable legally (NHTSA has requested more info from Tesla). It shouldn't be a huge surprise, then, to see a video pop up of a refreshed Model S prototype sporting a conventional wheel.
The video, posted by @icsichris on Twitter, clearly shows a Model S with the horizontal screen, rear display, stalkless steering column, and capacitive controls of the updated model. But while most automakers do a lot of public testing before initial reveals, we usually don't see Tesla mules until after the official announcement. So this is the first time we're seeing a beta version of this interior.
It's possible that the yoke is still planned for production. Yet it's clearly not just a quirk of a prototype that uses an old wheel design; based on the capacitive buttons, we know this isn't a standard Model S steering wheel. That means Tesla has at least prototyped a real wheel with the same enhancements as the yoke, suggesting it'll either go with the wheel or is testing two options for the Model S. Also of note is the instrument cluster behind the wheel. In the reveal renders, the screen was stepped back and clearly cut back into the dash. That's not the case in this prototype, which has a similar gauge cluster to the current Model S.
It's entirely possible that neither of these discrepancies matter in the long run, as Tesla could be moving ahead with the exact design previewed. But the company's quiet rollback of promises in the past gives us reason to ask questions. We also don't entirely understand how shifting the new Model S will work. Yet with the automaker not answering press inquiries and little reliable information out there, we'll have to let new information trickle in.
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