The new Tesla Model S features a “yoke” butterfly steering wheel, which has been met with debate. Some were concerned about the actual shape of the wheel being an issue, while others were concerned about the lack of a drive stalk to choose between drive modes.
We supposed that the manufacturer wouldn’t take a chance on bringing the contentious yoke steering wheel to market without a steer-by-wire system – especially since Tesla has been working on one.
We were surprised, however, to discover that the wheel has a normal 14.0:1 steering ratio after Tesla started deliveries of the new Model S Plaid last month.
Elon Musk later confirmed that Tesla is working on progressive steering, but it will be several years before it arrives. Meanwhile, Musk confirmed that Tesla would not be offering a basic steering wheel as an option with or without stalks in the future.
The CEO’s decision to produce a market for wheel retrofitting on Tesla’s Model S Plaid and other vehicles with the new steering wheel, such as the new Model X and future Roadster and Cybertruck, has opened up a lucrative aftermarket.
Ryan Huber, a first-generation plaid owner, is one of the first to attempt replacing the yoke wheel with a conventional one, and he just recently finished his conversion:
“When I started on this project, I planned to make everything, including the Model 3 wheel, work. Over the time I’ve had the car, I’d grown accustomed the yoke, minus the haptic controls, which remain awful (even in the new version). I planned to set the car up as Yoke + stalks for my normal config, and to toss the round wheel on for fun, rarely. But then I got the controls on the round wheel working, and I’m not going back to the Yoke.”
The Model 3’s scroll functionalities have even been incorporated into the Model S software by Huber.
Huber said he does not plan to sell his retrofit as a kit, but he plans to share his research on Github so that others may try and replicate it.
It’s not an easy process, as this example demonstrates. To make the Model 3 wheel work on the Model S Plaid firmware, for example, Huber had to develop custom firmware.
We’re aware of several aftermarket businesses that are attempting to provide a similar retrofit as a kit, but it appears that Huber may be the first.