Elon Musk said Tesla moved the horn to the center of its controversial new steering yoke.
The rectangular steering wheel has a small button for honking the horn, unlike nearly every other vehicle.
Owners have complained that the odd horn placement makes the yoke awkward and dangerous to use.
Tesla has updated the design of its controversial rectangular steering yoke, Elon Musk said last week. The redesign addresses one of the biggest problems owners have reported with the odd new steering apparatus.
New Tesla Model X and Model S vehicles built since November have their horns in the middle of the steering yoke, the Tesla CEO said on Tuesday. Tesla will release a firmware update to activate the new horn location, Musk said.
As part of a design refresh in 2021, Tesla gave its highest-end vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, rectangular, airplane-style steering yokes in place of conventional wheels. The carmaker also did away with the standard stalks and relocated the horn, high-beams, turn signals, and windshield wipers to small, smooth, touch-sensitive buttons on the steerer.
Some owners and reviewers were quick to complain about the new shape, which they said makes hand-over-hand turns cumbersome. People who got behind the wheel of the new Model S also said they’d regularly brush the horn, turn signals, or wipers on accident.
What’s perhaps more worrisome is that some drivers reported difficulty quickly finding and hitting the horn in dangerous situations. In complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some Tesla owners called the yoke a safety hazard, saying the new horn placement counters deeply ingrained muscle memory. Owners said they’d often have to take their eyes off of the road to locate and tap the small, flush button.
“After having used this system for some time, I believe it to be extremely dangerous and ill-advised,” one 2021 Model S owner in New York said in a comment to the agency.
Some owners told the agency they’d nearly gotten into crashes because they weren’t able to honk in time to alert other drivers or pedestrians.
“The horn is way off center, meaning it’s always in a different place, depending on the turn position. This is criminally stupid, and almost caused 3 accidents already for me,” a 2021 Model S owner in Hawaii reported in January. “When you need a horn, it’s to prevent an accident, and everyone intuitively slams the middle of the steering wheel.”
Public complaints to NHTSA aren’t verified to be true. But media outlets, including Consumer Reports, have echoed owner concerns that the yoke can be awkward and present safety challenges.
Musk did not indicate when the new firmware would be available. Tesla didn’t return a request for comment.
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