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Controversial Tesla yoke can now be swapped for regular steering wheel

The conventional steering wheel is now a retrofit option as Tesla Model S and Model X go beyond a yoke

Tesla steering wheel

Tesla’s new yoke-style steering wheel caused quite a bit of controversy when it was revealed in 2021 and now US customers that aren’t a fan of the design can choose to have a traditional wheel retrofitted to their Tesla.

The cost of the retrofit in the US is $700 (roughly £580), but there’s no word on if customers in the UK will be able to swap their yoke steering wheels back to round ones. Questions were raised about the legality of the yoke design in the UK, however, the Department for Transport has since declared it legal.

The DfT provided a statement which read: “The regulations relating to steering equipment (UN-ECE Regulation 79) does not stipulate any shape or size of the steering wheel.”

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UK regulations mean that a car’s steering equipment could be anything – a wheel, a joystick, a handlebar or Tesla’s unusual new flight yoke – and still remain legal, providing the system can be used to maintain control of the vehicle and meet UK MOT standards for excessive play or movement. Lexus is also looking at offering the upcoming RZ SUV with a yoke-style steering wheel. 

Tesla launched updated versions of the Model S saloon and Model X SUV in 2021, both of which feature U-shaped flight yokes in place of conventional steering wheels - you can still purchase both cars with round steering wheels, however. 

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When Tesla unveiled the updated Model S and Model X, the brand also announced a new feature for their infotainment systems called the “Tesla Arcade.” The company says its latest touchscreen has enough processing power to run modern video games – and that “wireless controller compatibility allows gaming from any seat.”

A DfT spokesperson also told the Sunday Times: “By law, drivers can only use screens when viewing driving information related to the state of the vehicle or its equipment, when navigation is displayed, or when assisting in viewing the road around the vehicle. Under the Road Vehicles (Constriction and Use) regulations, screens used for anything else should not be visible to the driver while the vehicle is being driven.”

That means that, even if it’s the front passenger who’s playing the video game, it would be illegal while the car was in motion as the screen is within the driver’s eyeline. However, rear seat passengers would legally be allowed to use the extra screen on the rear of the centre console for gaming – even when the car was moving.

It’s worth noting that the infotainment systems on current Tesla models can be used to watch TV and online streaming services – but the system becomes unavailable when the cars are in motion. Tesla will likely introduce a similar system for video game access.

Now read our in-depth review of the Tesla Model S here... 

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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