Whether or not you see the Tesla Cybertruck as the bane of the pickup world or the second coming of Truck-Based Christ, we can all shut up now: the Cybertruck is a real thing. Angular styling, super quick, and equipped with a steering wheel that looks pretty close to the ire-drawing yoke, this thing appears to be the pinnacle of Elon Musk’s style-over-substance ideas.
But now that we’ve got some details, it looks like cooler heads have prevailed, and Tesla’s engineering team has made Elon’s ideas at least somewhat palatable and useful in the rear world. The Cybertruck is equipped with steer-by-wire and rear-wheel-steering, two things that should make the truck maneuverable but also might fix one big issue everyone had with Tesla’s yoke.
Rear-wheel-steering isn’t a new technology and isn’t groundbreaking for a truck. Other trucks have had this tech in the past, and the way it works on the Cybertruck sounds pretty typical; it will turn opposite the front wheels for maximum maneuverability. Tesla says it gives the truck “The handling of a sports car, and the turning radius of most sports sedans.” The second part, the steer-by-wire might be the more exciting tech of the two, especially when it comes to the Cybertruck’s yoke-lite steering wheel.
See, the biggest problem of the yoke when equipped in the Model S and Model X, is the steering ratio itself. The steering ratio isn’t variable, which means sometimes there’d be too many turns, needed to make a maneuver during slow-speed driving. Hand-over-hand turns in traffic could be uncomfortable, if not dangerous, as Tesla yoke drivers would awkwardly shuffle the yoke around via its limited two hand-grips. (In their recent Performance EV of the Year Test, our friends at Road & Track hammered the Model S for this very reason.)
Gallery: Tesla Cybertruck
But in a steer-by-wire setup, the steering wheel isn’t directly connected to the wheels via a shaft. This means that the ratio can change, making the wheel require fewer turns at slower speeds. More and more EVs seem to be going this route lately; Toyota and Lexus have done the same thing, and while those haven’t seen wide rollouts yet, our various tests at press events have shown marked improvements in those systems just this year alone.
Additionally, losing the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the car’s wheels has other advantages in the electric era. Dumping those components frees up a lot of space, which can be used to make bigger cabins or accommodate room elsewhere. It’s also thought to be a bridge between human-driven cars and full autonomy, which is something we know Tesla is chasing. After all, why have a steering wheel with all those mechanical connections if you’re only driving some of the time?
But autonomy is a ways off, no matter what Musk says. In the meantime, these changes should make the yoke significantly less frustrating to use. Technically the Cybertruck’s squared-off, narrow steering wheel isn’t a true yoke, and Tesla didn’t say if the Cybertruck had variable ratio steering at the launch event, but the groundwork is there for Tesla to finally get the yoke right.
Source: Read Full Article