Why Is Tesla’s Yoke A “Safety Risk” But Lexus’ Yoke “Kinda Wonderful?”

Why is Tesla’s yoke steering wheel being touted as a safety risk but Lexus’ yoke steering wheel “kinda wonderful?” This is a question that many are wondering about after Gavin Shoebridge pointed out two articles from CNET about the two yokes. Although they were written by two different authors, one has to wonder why the Tesla yoke is being labeled a safety risk yet the Lexus one is being labeled as kind of wonderful.

Analyzing The Articles

The Tesla Yoke Article

In order to answer this question, we need to look at the articles. The first one was published in January 2021. The author shared that he thought “Tesla’s new KITT-style steering yoke” would not just be awkward but potentially unsafe, and shared his thoughts as to why.

He feared that one could lose their grip on the steering yoke if they hit a pothole or even break their wrists and faces. He was also worried about how awkward the yoke would be when using it to perpendicularly park in a spot. It seemed clear from the way he wrote the article — using phrases such as imagine this or that — that at the time, he had never experienced using the yoke.

The Lexus Yoke Article

This one was written just few days ago by a completely different author. Although he complimented the completely electronic system and said that it had advantages over conventional steering, he also said there was a learning curve.

The author actually did give a nod toward Tesla but refocused back on to Lexus, which is doing something different with its yoke. Lexus used a technology called One Motion Grip (in the US, it’s called steer-by-wire). It doesn’t have a physical mechanical connection to the front wheels. He added that it felt almost completely natural on a fast-paced track or highway but is awkward at lower speeds where learning curves factor in.

The author added that Tesla’s yoke still has a physical connection to the front wheels but that he hasn’t tried it yet. He said that it seemed inferior to what Lexus had developed due to the hand-over-hand movements used while turning. The article was more or less a review of a new type of yoke that Lexus arranged for. [Editor’s note: In conversations with him last year, race car driver Blake Fuller strongly criticized the Tesla yoke. At the same time, he said it would have been much better if it had been a steer-by-wire system like this. I think this is pretty much established fact among those who now much about this topic. —Zach Shahan]

The author seemed to like the new Lexus yoke but said that he wasn’t sure if it was a solution to any actual problem. It is, he said, better than Infiniti’s steer-by-wire system.

Thoughts

I can understand why many Tesla supporters, owners, and even shareholders are not too happy with these articles. This doesn’t have anything to do with Lexus, but how Tesla is often mistreated by the overall mainstream media. We’ve debunked so much fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about Tesla here at CleanTechnica over the past decade, and that FUD is what contributes to the opposition to electrification.

After reading the two articles, I felt as if the second article was more balanced than the first one. He made one or two comments about Tesla but didn’t outright bash the company, and I couldn’t feel undisguised hatred for Tesla or Elon Musk as you can with some of the other articles.

It should be pointed out that CNET wasn’t the only news site publishing articles about how bad Tesla’s yoke steering could be. Most of the critics in the media have moved from the idea that Tesla’s yoke is a threat to safety to Lexus’ yoke is better than Tesla’s. Many in the Tesla community see this as bias and are speaking out.

Every Tesla Plaid owner that I’ve spoken with said that switching from the traditional steering wheel to the yoke was pretty smooth.

One other thing to consider is that Tesla doesn’t pay for advertising nor does it have a PR department. Tesla’s focus is on the product rather than the appearance of the company to the media. This is easily seen in how the majority of the media (as an industry) treats both Tesla and Elon Musk as well as his other companies.

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