If the presentation of the new generation Model S and Model X brought with it the controversy about the substitution of a round steering wheel for one yoke-shaped (or butterfly), without a ring at the top and bottom, Elon Musk still wanted to go further away than that with him Model Y. This is stated in a book written by Tim Higgins published in 2021, in which it states that in the Electric SUV the intention was dispense with any type of steering wheel.
That the image that Elon Musk has of cars is very different from what most people have has been evident in recent years, since Tesla has been on the market. It is not only the new electric propulsion technology that makes them different, it is also the software, the data connection, which updates them and allows us to know what is happening with each car at every moment, and the Autopilot, capable of releasing the driver of many tasks. But Musk goes much further.
In August 2006 he presented the first part of his master plan whose goal was for Tesla to sell a low-end electric car, and using those profits to create a mid-range one to finally develop an electric car that would be affordable for anyone. A decade later, in 2016, he presented the second part of your strategy.
Among the new objectives, in addition to expanding its range of electric cars to other segments, taking advantage of solar energy and betting on increasing autonomy, the key was in the development of a car sharing platform, with which the owner would obtain an economic benefit while others use their vehicle to get around. A goal that can only be achieved if you think about the level 5 full autonomous driving.
In the book Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century (Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century), written by American journalist Tim Higgins of the Wall Street Journal, it is stated that in the initial specifications of the Model Y Elon Musk I did not want to install a steering wheel. The leader considered that this electric SUV was the key to this fourth proposal of his master plan, and would be equipped with a total autonomous driving system.
However, reality has been stubborn and in this case has run over Elon Musk’s plans, at least for now. The Model Y has a conventional steering wheel, which may one day be replaced by the yoke-type steering wheel of the new Model S (hopefully not). What It is very probable is that you never see it without any kind of steering wheel.
The book, which contains interviews with many former Tesla executives, although not with Musk himself, is not exactly to the liking of the leader, whom he has harshly criticized through his Twitter account, stating that “Higgins managed to make his book it was bogus and boring ”.
It may not be the Model Y, but in the not so near future as Musk imagined, there will be vehicles without a steering wheel or pedals (and electric, of course). Tesla itself is already taking the first steps with the development of Autopilot, which with each update is able to do more and do it better. And it is also developing the technology to make it possible for a car to be driven without a steering wheel. The Austin Gig Factory will become the development center for the manufacturer’s current and future vehicle programs. Its tasks include developing new engines and drivetrains that will work by cableIn other words, regardless of the mechanical elements that connect them with the steering wheel and the pedals, a step prior to total autonomous driving.
Tesla and many other automakers have already implemented actuators in their vehicles that allow the vehicle to be driven remotely, without the driver having to exert force on the steering wheel or pedals, as this is the basis of autonomous driving. However, these systems maintain the mechanical link. Most markets still establish in their regulation the need for this link to exist in order to legalize its commercialization and circulation, that is, technology is currently slowed down by bureaucratic and security issues.