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Initial yoke impressions

BrandonLive

MS LR Blue/Black/FSD 19s -> 21s RN11455, VIN!
Sep 24, 2018
340
598
Seattle
I received my new Model S LR on the 29th, and while I’ve unfortunately only had limited time to drive it so far due to holiday plans, I wanted to write down my initial impressions of the steering yoke.

First, I think you have to separate out two things: the shape of the steering apparatus (yoke instead of circular), and the stalkless design.

I’ll start with the shape. My initial impression was that it was far easier to use right off the bat than I expected. Others may have a different experience, but I took to manipulating it as needed without much effort.

For highway use, with or without AP, it’s great. Very comfortable, and the improved visibility it affords makes it a pleasure for cruising. Just as I expected.

Getting in and out of my driveway is more complicated. However tricky you are imagining this to be (in any car), I promise it’s harder. We’re theoretically redoing and widening the driveway soon, but even then getting onto the crowded street on a hill with parked cars in questionably legal positions will always take some effort. I had no *problem* doing this with the yoke, but it isn’t in any way helpful, and does feel somewhat awkward at times. Fortunately our street doesn’t have much traffic so I can generally take my time, but I’d be more worried about doing it in a hurry, and especially having another driver who isn’t experienced with it trying to maneuver under pressure.

Around town, I quickly took to using one hand around regular 90 degree turns and it works fine. I haven’t had a chance to try roundabouts or other situations yet though. I don’t foresee any major problems but I also don’t think it’s any better, probably marginally worse, than a round wheel.

Overall it’s sort of a wash for me. As a “grand tourer” for long road trips maybe I can weigh the highway use case a bit more and convince myself it might be worthwhile, but that’s kind of a stretch. I generally subscribe to the “change is bad unless it’s great” principle of UX design, and this is a change that overall isn’t great - even if there are situations where it is somewhat better.

Now to the stalkless design. For the majority of functions (i.e. AP, wipers), I think this is fine. However, I have major concerns about the turn signals. For one thing, I have found myself needing to make a conscious effort each time I enable them, which includes *looking* at the buttons to make sure I get the right one, and making an effort to press hard enough to fully engage them. Perhaps I will get used to this and learn to use them without looking, but it bothers me that there’s no tactile difference between the buttons, so it seems hard to feel confident you’ve got the right one without looking.

I am confounded that they didn’t add some texture or bumps that you could feel which would uniquely identify each one. I may even try to add something simply myself - maybe a good aftermarket opportunity here. In fact I think adding a “lip” at the bottom of the lower button (left signal), and at the top of the upper button (right signal), might be the ideal addition. I hope Tesla considers changes like this in the future.

Another small mitigation they could perhaps try with software would be to change the pitch of the left vs right turn signal sound, so at least I could have confirmation that I enabled the correct one without looking.

The other problem I have with it is that the “buttons” are very sensitive touch sensors, and it’s far too easy to accidentally blink a turn signal. Again this will hopefully become less of a problem over time, but I think it’s especially problematic when using the left hand scroller. This was immediately troublesome while setting my mirror positions, and again when I was tweaking them after getting on the highway. But even when adjusting volume or skipping tracks, it turns out every use of that scroller comes with a >50% chance of accidentally flashing one of the turn signals momentarily.

I think a software option to disable the “light touch” behavior of these buttons would be worth considering. I’d prefer that they instead use a short press to do the 3 flash lane change thing, and a longer press to fully enable it for a turn. Ultimately I hope they figure out an automatic turn signal feature using the AP system. Originally I imagined this would be just like the “FSD Beta” behavior but without the car driving - just signaling based on your route. However another alternative might be to have a short (but full pressure) press of the button do either a 3 flash lane change indicator or a full turn indicator behavior based on what AP sees. Basically if you’re at an intersection, do the latter, if you’re on a highway or otherwise indicating in a direction where there’s an adjacent lane to move into, so the three flashes. You could always do a longer press to force it to stay on.

The one place where they feel pretty good is again on the highway, when used with AP (+ “FSD”), where the buttons initiate automatic lane changes. It makes driving with AP feel just a little bit more futuristic. That’s a nice “delighter” as a driver, but I don’t think I can honestly say it’s worth all the other downsides I mentioned.

I hope they iterate on this design, both hardware and software. However I also think they need to offer a round steering wheel as an option. Not just because the yoke is of questionable value, or because I would prefer a round one - I’m mostly fine with it. Instead, I think this is important because I have family members who were planing to get an S even before the refresh, and now are holding off because they are too weirded out and afraid of the yoke. Just offering the round shape like was seen in some test mules would probably get them past this trepidation - but I do wonder if a round but still stalkless setup would make them unhappy even if they didn’t realize it until they drove it. This could lead to test drives putting people off, and seems like a silly thing to have cause customers to be unhappy and to have them communicate that unhappiness to others potential buyers.

However, if they make some improvements - like the tactile indicators on the turn signal buttons, that plus a round wheel might be enough to make stalkless work well and avoid scaring new drivers off.

Hope that’s helpful for those anxious about the new setup. I’ll come back and provide an update once I’ve had a little more time with it (and will share if I end up trying a makeshift addition to the turn signal buttons to “prototype” what I think they should do).
 

HumanGenome

Member
Oct 11, 2014
448
581
Sacramento, CA
I know it sounds ridiculous but maybe a very tiny dab of superglue might work. Or something more temporary like a soft rounded sticky that could be removed more easily

Excellent write up, thanks for sharing.
 

daktari

Member
Jan 21, 2017
908
1,030
Norway
Interesting to read, thanks.

In my mother's 10 year old BMW (160.000 km) the start/stop button barely have any paint left on it, even worse with seat heater button! How long will the paint on the Tesla yoke hold up? A tough 2nd hand sell after 5 years?

BTW here, were roads are icy and slippery 1/2 the year, one need a wheel to turn fast to full lock and back. Auto stability ctrl is not always enough.
 

Dan D.

Member
Dec 7, 2020
666
740
Vancouver, BC
Interesting to read, thanks.

In my mother's 10 year old BMW (160.000 km) the start/stop button barely have any paint left on it, even worse with seat heater button! How long will the paint on the Tesla yoke hold up? A tough 2nd hand sell after 5 years?

BTW here, were roads are icy and slippery 1/2 the year, one need a wheel to turn fast to full lock and back. Auto stability ctrl is not always enough.
I'm not sure they are painted. Can someone with the yoke chime in here. I believe they are lighted white areas that wouldn't 'wear out'.
 

daktari

Member
Jan 21, 2017
908
1,030
Norway
I'm not sure they are painted. Can someone with the yoke chime in here. I believe they are lighted white areas that wouldn't 'wear out'.
That would be great. Those in the BMW anno 2011 is transparent plastic with a translucent white paint and black paint on top.
 

dc443

Member
May 11, 2021
46
25
Taxachusetts
I just don’t understand going stalkless at all. This is a concept in product design that a car maker simply cannot afford to toss out. It’s about making the controls accessible and unambiguous AT ALL TIMES, it’s a safety issue! Stalks are great because they do not move with the wheel. To put controls onto the wheel itself is legitimately a safety issue, and doubly so with non tactile buttons. Replacing stalks with buttons might be acceptable if the buttons were on par with game controllers buttons in terms of tactility and finding them by feel, but as has already been brought up, they would probably need tactile identifying bumps.

I think that if we’re going for sporty, we could at least make the turn signals into (non wheel attached!) shift paddles or something like this. I have also felt at times that I’d prefer a wheel button to control the high beams rather than having to physically pull the stalk the whole time, but this does not make it okay to get rid of stalks entirely.

Not even the horn was spared! Again a legitimate safety issue being introduced here for no reason at all. How did DOT approve this? Talk about squandering all of the rest of the amazing advancements in the rest of the vehicle. Really screwed the pooch on the user interface and now I would never purchase one of these vehicles. A massive failure of design at the highest level.
 
Last edited:

a1machinista1

MY5 5/24 wh/blk 19" tow-- MSLR 6/1 MSM/blk 19"
Apr 12, 2019
837
623
oregon
I received my new Model S LR on the 29th, and while I’ve unfortunately only had limited time to drive it so far due to holiday plans, I wanted to write down my initial impressions of the steering yoke.

First, I think you have to separate out two things: the shape of the steering apparatus (yoke instead of circular), and the stalkless design.

I’ll start with the shape. My initial impression was that it was far easier to use right off the bat than I expected. Others may have a different experience, but I took to manipulating it as needed without much effort.

For highway use, with or without AP, it’s great. Very comfortable, and the improved visibility it affords makes it a pleasure for cruising. Just as I expected.

Getting in and out of my driveway is more complicated. However tricky you are imagining this to be (in any car), I promise it’s harder. We’re theoretically redoing and widening the driveway soon, but even then getting onto the crowded street on a hill with parked cars in questionably legal positions will always take some effort. I had no *problem* doing this with the yoke, but it isn’t in any way helpful, and does feel somewhat awkward at times. Fortunately our street doesn’t have much traffic so I can generally take my time, but I’d be more worried about doing it in a hurry, and especially having another driver who isn’t experienced with it trying to maneuver under pressure.

Around town, I quickly took to using one hand around regular 90 degree turns and it works fine. I haven’t had a chance to try roundabouts or other situations yet though. I don’t foresee any major problems but I also don’t think it’s any better, probably marginally worse, than a round wheel.

Overall it’s sort of a wash for me. As a “grand tourer” for long road trips maybe I can weigh the highway use case a bit more and convince myself it might be worthwhile, but that’s kind of a stretch. I generally subscribe to the “change is bad unless it’s great” principle of UX design, and this is a change that overall isn’t great - even if there are situations where it is somewhat better.

Now to the stalkless design. For the majority of functions (i.e. AP, wipers), I think this is fine. However, I have major concerns about the turn signals. For one thing, I have found myself needing to make a conscious effort each time I enable them, which includes *looking* at the buttons to make sure I get the right one, and making an effort to press hard enough to fully engage them. Perhaps I will get used to this and learn to use them without looking, but it bothers me that there’s no tactile difference between the buttons, so it seems hard to feel confident you’ve got the right one without looking.

I am confounded that they didn’t add some texture or bumps that you could feel which would uniquely identify each one. I may even try to add something simply myself - maybe a good aftermarket opportunity here. In fact I think adding a “lip” at the bottom of the lower button (left signal), and at the top of the upper button (right signal), might be the ideal addition. I hope Tesla considers changes like this in the future.

Another small mitigation they could perhaps try with software would be to change the pitch of the left vs right turn signal sound, so at least I could have confirmation that I enabled the correct one without looking.

The other problem I have with it is that the “buttons” are very sensitive touch sensors, and it’s far too easy to accidentally blink a turn signal. Again this will hopefully become less of a problem over time, but I think it’s especially problematic when using the left hand scroller. This was immediately troublesome while setting my mirror positions, and again when I was tweaking them after getting on the highway. But even when adjusting volume or skipping tracks, it turns out every use of that scroller comes with a >50% chance of accidentally flashing one of the turn signals momentarily.

I think a software option to disable the “light touch” behavior of these buttons would be worth considering. I’d prefer that they instead use a short press to do the 3 flash lane change thing, and a longer press to fully enable it for a turn. Ultimately I hope they figure out an automatic turn signal feature using the AP system. Originally I imagined this would be just like the “FSD Beta” behavior but without the car driving - just signaling based on your route. However another alternative might be to have a short (but full pressure) press of the button do either a 3 flash lane change indicator or a full turn indicator behavior based on what AP sees. Basically if you’re at an intersection, do the latter, if you’re on a highway or otherwise indicating in a direction where there’s an adjacent lane to move into, so the three flashes. You could always do a longer press to force it to stay on.

The one place where they feel pretty good is again on the highway, when used with AP (+ “FSD”), where the buttons initiate automatic lane changes. It makes driving with AP feel just a little bit more futuristic. That’s a nice “delighter” as a driver, but I don’t think I can honestly say it’s worth all the other downsides I mentioned.

I hope they iterate on this design, both hardware and software. However I also think they need to offer a round steering wheel as an option. Not just because the yoke is of questionable value, or because I would prefer a round one - I’m mostly fine with it. Instead, I think this is important because I have family members who were planing to get an S even before the refresh, and now are holding off because they are too weirded out and afraid of the yoke. Just offering the round shape like was seen in some test mules would probably get them past this trepidation - but I do wonder if a round but still stalkless setup would make them unhappy even if they didn’t realize it until they drove it. This could lead to test drives putting people off, and seems like a silly thing to have cause customers to be unhappy and to have them communicate that unhappiness to others potential buyers.

However, if they make some improvements - like the tactile indicators on the turn signal buttons, that plus a round wheel might be enough to make stalkless work well and avoid scaring new drivers off.

Hope that’s helpful for those anxious about the new setup. I’ll come back and provide an update once I’ve had a little more time with it (and will share if I end up trying a makeshift addition to the turn signal buttons to “prototype” what I think they should do).

Tesla has a MSLR at our local outlet. And it is a "look only" NO test drives. It has been my thinking that they are not allowing test drives for that exact reason. Most people would say no to the wheel right away. One thing that someone here mentioned is the fact that initiating a turn signal mid turn is almost impossible. Maybe this wheel will force some road morons to start signaling before a turn rather rather than during a turn?
 

linux-works

Active Member
Dec 23, 2019
2,163
3,732
mtn view, ca
I just don’t understand going stalkless at all. This is a concept in product design that a car maker simply cannot afford to toss out. It’s about making the controls accessible and unambiguous AT ALL TIMES, it’s a safety issue! Stalks are great because they do not move with the wheel.
this was tesla's worst move in years. I can't think of a worse UI design than this; and to not offer two wheels (yes, I would ship both wheels to customer and make it so that its not a major thing to swap in/out).

that way, you can pull the crap you did - and still have a drivable car when the user eventually switches back to regular round wheels.

to make it this, and this only - I bet that's why we are seeing some cars being advertised and up for owner sale, just days or weeks after purchase.

how STUPID of tesla to not offer a dual wheel option, so that you can TRY the yoke and maybe keep it, but not be STRANDED to this sole choice if you can't deal with it (and I predict most wont like it but some just wont ever admit it).

this is way too much money to not give a choice to the user. again, both wheels shipped to customer. that's the way to do it properly and risk-free.

elon, you get an F yet again.
 

lowtek

Member
Jan 2, 2020
570
1,146
Alabama, USA
The yoke is cool and wasn't a problem to adjust to .. the turn signal buttons, however, I think need to be somewhere else as I'm always touching them on accident ... either triggers on the yoke or back to a regular stalk. Everything else is great!
 

linux-works

Active Member
Dec 23, 2019
2,163
3,732
mtn view, ca
I'm not sure how you'd re-add stalks. I can see how you can swap wheels, but removing stalks was such a radical thing.

my guess is that this wont happen on any other vehicles that are mass sold; and in fact, the plaid is not mass-sold, really, either.

btw, I have a friend who is a private pilot and he's considering a model 3. I asked him about the yoke and he says he even hates it on his plane. fwiw ;)
 
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Wol747

Active Member
Aug 26, 2017
1,052
527
Tea Gardens
Ha! Pilots buying round wheels because they hate yokes.... Who knew?
Horses for courses - you don't buy oranges when you are baking an apple pie!
The only time an airplane yoke is turned anything like full deflection is during taxiing checks and the only control on it of consequence is the autopilot cut-out button.
( I can't remember where the horn is <g>).
 

csphili

Member
May 25, 2016
36
55
Illinois
The yoke is cool and wasn't a problem to adjust to .. the turn signal buttons, however, I think need to be somewhere else as I'm always touching them on accident ... either triggers on the yoke or back to a regular stalk. Everything else is great!
Have to say, triggers on the yoke are a GREAT idea. Elon, are you reading?
 

whitex

Well-Known Member
Sep 30, 2015
6,698
8,037
Seattle area, WA
I just don’t understand going stalkless at all.

Not even the horn was spared!
I think stalks don't work when half the wheel is missing (imagine wanting to use the turn signal stalk when the yoke it already turned 90 degrees to the left.
Not even the horn was spared!
Yea, that just seems like another Elon decision to cut cost - probably hard to safely add reliable touch sensors over the airbag.

The yoke IMO is definitely a bad UX decision, but from a marketing point of view, brilliant! Their bread and butter cars (3/Y) keep on selling, while S/X which Elon claims are only made for sentimental reasons since they don't contribute at all to the bottom line, those cars generate tons of free advertising. All press is good press, whether people love it or hate it, they are talking about it. Genius I tell you.
 

Ledbettm

Member
Apr 27, 2018
5
14
Grand Rapids
this was tesla's worst move in years. I can't think of a worse UI design than this; and to not offer two wheels (yes, I would ship both wheels to customer and make it so that its not a major thing to swap in/out).

that way, you can pull the crap you did - and still have a drivable car when the user eventually switches back to regular round wheels.

to make it this, and this only - I bet that's why we are seeing some cars being advertised and up for owner sale, just days or weeks after purchase.

how STUPID of tesla to not offer a dual wheel option, so that you can TRY the yoke and maybe keep it, but not be STRANDED to this sole choice if you can't deal with it (and I predict most wont like it but some just wont ever admit it).

this is way too much money to not give a choice to the user. again, both wheels shipped to customer. that's the way to do it properly and risk-free.

elon, you get an F yet again.
I really hate to say this but I intend to sell my Plaid. The yoke is a deal breaker. It is fine for highway driving but downright dangerous in more normal city driving. The scroll wheels are so close to the turn signals you can't help but put on the signal when you change tracks. The other thing I find strange is when you activate auto high beams, the car does a quick flash. This causes other driver to be dazzled and flash back. The rest of the car is fine, minus the usual initial quality problems.
 

sunfarm

2021M3LR, Blue, 19", FSD
Jun 21, 2021
133
74
Canada
I really hate to say this but I intend to sell my Plaid. The yoke is a deal breaker. It is fine for highway driving but downright dangerous in more normal city driving. The scroll wheels are so close to the turn signals you can't help but put on the signal when you change tracks. The other thing I find strange is when you activate auto high beams, the car does a quick flash. This causes other driver to be dazzled and flash back. The rest of the car is fine, minus the usual initial quality problems.
For me a Yoke -is a joke. "minus the usual initial quality problems."!!! 🤣 Not to bad for price tag 175K!!!
 
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666kW

Member
Apr 26, 2021
16
7
Maryland
I think a software option to disable the “light touch” behavior of these buttons would be worth considering. I’d prefer that they instead use a short press to do the 3 flash lane change thing, and a longer press to fully enable it for a turn. Ultimately I hope they figure out an automatic turn signal feature using the AP system. Originally I imagined this would be just like the “FSD Beta” behavior but without the car driving - just signaling based on your route. However another alternative might be to have a short (but full pressure) press of the button do either a 3 flash lane change indicator or a full turn indicator behavior based on what AP sees. Basically if you’re at an intersection, do the latter, if you’re on a highway or otherwise indicating in a direction where there’s an adjacent lane to move into, so the three flashes. You could always do a longer press to force it to stay on.
I agree 100% changing lanes with the current blinker system is awkward.
Tesla needs to change the differentiation between a ‘soft’ press and ‘hard’ press. Actually, just give us the STANDARD triple-blink!
Changing lanes with the current blinker is horrible. It's extremely annoying to have to turn your lane signal off.
 
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WilliamG

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
3,941
5,173
Seattle, WA
I agree 100% changing lanes with the current blinker system is awkward.
Tesla needs to change the differentiation between a ‘soft’ press and ‘hard’ press. Actually, just give us the STANDARD triple-blink!
Changing lanes with the current blinker is horrible. It's extremely annoying to have to turn your lane signal off.

I agree. I think an option should be there to allow the gentle touch to be triple-blink, while pressing it harder should of course always be perma-blink.
 

Dan_Foster

Member
Jul 10, 2021
38
107
Troy, New York, USA
I agree. I think an option should be there to allow the gentle touch to be triple-blink, while pressing it harder should of course always be perma-blink.
Absolutely agree. Not only are the stupid haptic buttons awkward, but one blink? One?! My 2006 VW Passat had blinkers with a logical speed / distance algorithm auto-shut off that worked perfectly. And this is 2021 TESLA—I mean come on…did they test this at all?

I maintain that Elon Musk woke up one day and thought, “steering wheels are boring,” and subsequently forced the engineers to ram this into production without a care in the world for actual driving.
 

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