Tesla's Controversial Steering Yoke Just Got Another Strike Against It

According to a recent change spied on the online configurator for Tesla's Model S sedan and Model X SUV, fans of the brand's futuristic steering yoke had better be prepared to splash out some extra cash for the privilege of the unique control mechanism. How much extra? U.S. buyers will pay an additional $1,000 for the yoke option, while European and Chinese customers will get dinged €1,000 and RMB 8,000, respectively. For those keeping track, that's a massive four-fold increase for what was previously only a $250 "upgrade."

Beginning in 2021, the latest generation Model S and Model X vehicles were only available with a steering yoke until Tesla CEO Elon Musk caved to criticism earlier this year and started manufacturing the two flagship models with conventional round steering wheels. For owners who purchased their new Teslas during the mandatory steering yoke era, a dealer-installed retrofit to a round wheel was made available in January 2023 for $700 and quickly sold out.

A steering wheel compromise may be on the horizon

The current steering yoke — reminiscent of something from the 1980s television show "Knight Rider" — has been highly polarizing among Tesla fans. Some owners love the yoke for its uniqueness and novelty factor, while others comment that it makes it more difficult to maneuver, particularly at low speeds. There's a similar divide among racing drivers who pilot Teslas, with a round-wheeled Model S Plaid dominating its class at the 2021 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, while another Model S Plaid set a record lap for production all-electric vehicles on Germany's famous Nurburgring track using a steering yoke.

According to InsideEVs, Tesla isn't yet ready to abandon its quirky steering wheel. It is reportedly working on an updated yoke design closer to a combination of the yoke and a regular steering wheel, which may appeal more to the masses. A steering wheel that meets that description (pictured above) was spotted on the upcoming Cybertruck at Tesla's Investor Day event.

This latest change is only the most recent in a relentless series of tweaks to overall pricing and options availability across the Tesla lineup, not to mention the highly anticipated redesign of the brand's staple, the Model 3.