The Tesla Model S was updated with a totally new interior on Wednesday, and the most radical change is that new yoke-style steering “wheel,” which looks straight out of Knight Rider. But what might be even more radical is something that I can’t see: It seems like there’s no PRNDL shifter.Up until now, the Model S has shifted into gear via a column-mounted stalk swiped from the Mercedes-Benz parts bin. (The Model 3, Model X and Model Y use the same stalk.) But Tesla has eliminated all stalks from behind the new Model S’ wheel, moving controls for the turn signals, horn and wipers onto the yoke. So how exactly do you shift?There’s no PRNDL here.
In all of the released images, the center console and dashboard are smooth and devoid of any sort of controls, save for the 17-inch touchscreen and the hazard warning light button that sits under the wireless charging pad below the screen. There’s nothing on the door panels or the headliner, either.The shifting controls could be found in that center screen, but there’s no visible evidence of that. The lower left corner of the screen shows controls for the climate control and the heated windshield, while the lower right corner displays media info. In the top left there’s an icon showing a top-down view of the car, so maybe the PRNDL is found there? But it seems like it would be extremely dangerous to keep such an essential function in a submenu of a digital display that could break.No PRNDL here either.
Now there’s a chance that these CGI images are all at an angle that obscures the PRNDL shifter, or maybe they were rendered or edited to remove its location. The only mention from Tesla on the topic is this blurb under an image of the steering wheel on its website: “The ultimate focus on driving: no stalks, no shifting. Model S is the best car to drive, and the best car to be driven in.” That seems like an obvious reference to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system, which does nothing of the sort.No matter how advanced you think Tesla’s Full Self-Driving tech is, the driver still needs to be able to put it the car in drive, reverse, neutral or park. In fact there’s even a law on the books that mandated the order of the letters PRND, as our friends at GearPatrol explain, and while I’m not sure if there is an actual law that requires a car have a shifter, it seems like there’s got to be.If this were any other car company, I could just call the public relations team for an explanation, but Tesla dissolved its PR department a few months ago. Guess I’ll just have to tweet at Elon Musk.
Refreshed Tesla Model S has a Knight Rider steering wheel
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