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The Tesla steering yoke is now a $250 option for the Model S and Model X, marking a change of direction for the automaker.

The yoke was announced in January 2021 as part of a refresh of the Model S and Model X, Tesla’s two oldest models. The vehicles also received a Model 3-like horizontal touchscreen and the addition of Plaid performance models. The yoke began rolling out in production cars the following June as a mandatory feature, to mixed reviews.

2023 Tesla Model S - Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.2023 Tesla Model S – Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla brought back the steering wheel option in January 2023. The conventional round wheel was initially reintroduced as a no-cost option, and quickly became the default on Tesla’s online configurator. Now, any customer who wants the yoke will have to pay extra for it.

It doesn’t appear this was Tesla’s original plan. In July 2021, CEO Elon Musk was asked on Twitter (the most direct way to get information about Tesla because the automaker no longer has a public relations department) if there was any chance of a normal steering wheel option. Musk responded with a straightforward “no.”

Elon Musk denies plans for a steering wheel option alongside Tesla yoke in July 2021 tweetElon Musk denies plans for a steering wheel option alongside Tesla yoke in July 2021 tweet

Since Tesla introduced its steering yoke, other automakers have also taken up the idea, but with somewhat different approaches. BMW applied for a yoke steering wheel patent in 2022. The design, which incorporated fold-away grips, frees up more space, the automaker said in a patent application. BMW hasn’t discussed plans to use this design in a production car, however.

Lexus has actually taken that leap, adding a yoke to its RZ 450e electric crossover. Lexus’ version was designed for use with a variable-ratio steer-by-wire system, which worked quite well in a prototype drive. But Lexus has no timeline for bringing its yoke and steer-by-wire system to the U.S. market.

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