The new Tesla Model S redesign looks great— but is it safe?

People worry that the steering yoke and lack of gear shifts makes the redesign unsafe

Taylor Ford
4 min readMar 19, 2021
Photo from Tesla website

On January 27, 2021 Elon Musk went to Twitter to announce the long awaited redesign of the Plaid Model S and to say the least it was Tesla-esque. What I mean by this is that its design is a continuation of Musk’s ability to further distance himself from other car companies while challenging the norm when it comes to vehicles in general.

The exterior of the redesigned Model S is not much different from its predecessor. It has kept its traditional shape, but the chrome has been replaced with black accents and the headlights are sleeker compared to the older model.

On the other hand, the question of the car’s safety arises when we get to the interior of the car and the practicality of making these photos a reality. The most important thing to think about when designing a car are the consumers and it seems like this will be quite the learning curve. Tesla is known for its original minimalist interior, but did they take it too far with this design?

Photo from Tesla website

Steering Yoke

In the new Model S With the yoke steering has replaced the traditional steering wheel that we all know and love. For those who are unaware, most steering yokes are in race cars because they require a special steering ratio to properly race and make the sharp turns necessary on a raceway. The only logically reason behind this type of steering wheel is if the driver is using Full Self Driving mode that would require less or an intrusive wheel.

Race drivers don’t do much parallel parking or need to turn through regular low-speed intersections, at least not while in a race car — that’s where the different ratios start to matter.

Changing the shape of the steering wheel will make basic driving maneuvers difficult because of the constant spinning of the wheel to turn and lack of grip. As far as crash safety goes, the 2021 Tesla Model S and Model X should offer excellent protection because of its ability to absorb the shock of the crash away from the occupants. However, according to Roadshow, this new steering yoke could cause some serious damage to your hands and legs because during a crash, the wheel tends to spin uncontrollably.

No Gear Shifters

All of the Tesla models, old and new, have limited amount of tactile buttons since most of the cars functions were found on the 15-17 inch cinematic display. In total there were approximately 3 buttons that included the hazard light button, gear shifter, and the windshield wiper controls. But oh how things have changed. On January 28, 2021, a day after the drop of the redesign photos, Musk went to Twitter to announce that the car will no longer have “stalks” or gear shifters. Saying goodbye to the traditional PRNDL (pronounced prindle) is a testament to the advancement of technology, but it is also daunting to think about when you think about all the things that could go wrong.

Taken from Elon Musk’s Twitter

The use of the word override suggest that the system still needs some work and in some cases it won’t be the most accurate. You may be thinking how this is even possible and the simply answer is that thanks to the Tesla maps and cameras the car will determine the correct gear. With things like construction and map updates this feature can be tricky and may result in unnecessary accidents.

Will it be perfect? No. It’ll likely require training to learn your routine and parking spaces, and it’s sure to make a few mistakes, so it’s best to keep an eye on the dash cluster to see just what gear you’re actually in before stepping on the accelerator.

Similar to the Full Self Driving Mode and Autopilot, this features seems to be more of a beta than something that can is fully established. Using the touchscreen will be helpful, but there have been cases when the touchscreen completely goes black or malfunctions to where it is not usable.

I am a big fan of Tesla, but some of these new features have me worried for the safety of those on the rode. The new models will be delivered in March so it’s only a matter of time before they hit the rode.



Taylor Ford

Hello, I’m Taylor and my interest include the following: Reading, Poetry, television shows, and photography.