Elon’s Yoke

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They say – well, some point out – that Teslas are dangerous (in addition to being fatuous) because they are suspiciously fire-prone in accidents – and sometimes, while sitting in your garage, charging. They say – well, a few have been pointing  out – that Teslas with “self driving” capability are dangerous, because they sometimes drive themselves – along with whomever’s along for the ride – into things, killing people sometimes. 

But there is another thing about Teslas that makes them dangerous that – it appears – no one has yet noticed, despite it staring everyone in the face:

Their steering wheel. 

Which isn’t one.

The 2022 Tesla S Plaid (named the latter to riff off a line in the old Mel Brooks Movie, Spaceballs, which mocked Star Wars, one-upping light speed with . . . plaid speed, which was even faster) has a three-sided thing that looks a lot like a riff off the ‘80s TeeVee series, Knight Rider. That one featured a self-driving black Trans-Am that featured a similar-looking not-steering wheel meant to suggest an aviation yoke. 

But airplanes don’t steer like cars – they bank and roll rather than turn. And it’s hard to steer a car with an airplane-style yoke. Your range of motion, left-right, is limited by the degree to which you can move the yoke left-down and then right-and-down, because that is limited by the degree to which you can do it without taking your hands off of it.

A steering wheel has greater range of uninterrupted motion. There are no awkward/clunky near-right-angles to hand-over-hand. Especially if it happens to be spinning. And there isn’t a third of it missing, as it is from aviation yokes – and here, in the Plaid.

Controlling a yoked car is probably no problem at sluggish speeds, when no quick or extreme inputs from a driver are necessary. But what about when they are? As for example when it is necessary to avoid something that you will hit unless quick/extreme inputs are made?

Well, the reply is probably that the Tesla has many “advanced” forms of “driver assistance technology” – like the Knight 2000 (KITT) from Knight Rider – that will obviate this necessity. They are meant to obviate the driver, certainly. As in the Knight 2000, too. Vidal Sassooned and hair-permed Michael Knight was also along for the ride in the talking/self-driving  car.

But that was TeeVee.

How about Tesla?

The intent, no doubt, was to imply a “cool” association that the aging Gen X’ers who grew up watching Knight Rider will connect with – that will make them think how cool the Tesla S is. Like being 13 again and propped up in front of the TeeVee, watching Knight Rider while waiting for mom to finish supper. ElonMusk is himself an aging Gen X’er and it is almost certainly the case that it was he who had the car that bears his name emulate KITT, right down to its yoke rather than a wheel.

But how is it that Elon gets away with it?

There’s a reason why almost every car made since the dawn of cars – and all cars made since the dawn of the government regulating them, in the name of saaaaaaaaaaafety – came with wheels that are round rather three-sided yokes that aren’t. Wheels turn. Yokes don’t. Not as much. Not as easily. The possibility of not being able to arc the yoke far enough in a course-correcting turn or suddenly necessary evasive maneuver – at least, not without letting go of it, to reposition one’s hands – is what you might describe as an affectation for the sake of styling at the expense of controllability.

If another car-maker, especially one not making electric cars, made such a car, there would likely be some interest over at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which is the federal apparat that is occasionally rabid about “safety” – when it doesn’t impinge upon anything the larger apparat is interested in promoting-pushing.

Such as electric cars and self-driving cars.

Especially Elon’s cars. Because they are so “cool” – and that is the carrot placed before the donkey, who doesn’t yet see the stick.

But all electric cars have track records of having problems uniquely specific to their form of propulsion – or rather, of energy storage. That being a built-in fire risk that’s inherently greater than it is with non-electric cars, which need both leaks and sparks together as precursors to fires while electric cars can (and have) spontaneously combusted, often while parked. This being an inherent risk with very high voltage batteries and very high (and “fast”) charging of them.

There have been some recalls of battery-powered cars – but no bans.

It is as if metal-tipped Lawn Darts – another Gen X reference – hadn’t been taken off the market on account of people being impaled by them as they descended back to the earth after having been hurled skyward.

Not even a warning label about the enhanced possibility of a fire – and why and when – is affixed to electric cars. Or to self-driving cars, as regards their tendency to self-drive themselves into things.

Especially Elon’s cars, which come standard with both risks and more than the usual of each, if the number of fires and “accidents” involving them are any indication. But it’s nothing-to-see-here, at least as far as NHTSA seems to be concerned. Probably because electric cars and self-driving cars – and especially Elon’s cars – are useful in the furtherance of the apparat’s broader mission, which has nothing to do with “keeping us safe” except insofar as that is useful as a questions-stifling catcall.

And so it appears to be, again, with regard to Elon’s yoke. It looks so very cool. But a Tesla S Plaid isn’t KITT – and using an airplane yoke to steer a car is not unlike holding a pistol sideways, something also seen on TeeVee that doesn’t work so good out in the real world.

. . .

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42 COMMENTS

  1. How is it possible to stuff every stupid idea about how a car is into one vehicle? But Tesla manages to do it.

    Actually surprised they aren’t trying that stupid one pedal thing too.

  2. Guys,

    Something else to remember about the use of yokes in aircraft is this: to get the desired rate of turn, one cranks the yoke until the angle of bank is reached; then, it’s straightened back out. Until the aircraft is straightened out, it’ll then continue to turn with the yoke level.

  3. Formula cars have been KITT style yokez for quite some time now.

    They seem to scoot around the track pretty well last I checked.

    Anyone else think that KITT was gay? Knot that there’s anything wrong with that…..

    • True. But, they have less than one full turn lock-to-lock. Steering of that quickness is way beyond the capabilities of most drivers and is suitable only for track use. Note, all production based race cars still have a full wheel.

      The average Tesla buyer may consider themselves equal to Lewis Hamilton but, only in their dreams.

  4. Elon Musk’s says he has a super bad feeling about the economy

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2022/06/03/elon-musks-super-bad-feeling-could-cost-10000-tesla-jobs/?sh=2f53d42d386e

    Since we live in clown world, where the movie ‘Idiocracy’ is prophecy of Amerika in decline, having a bad feeling about “the economy” is a great laugh.

    Oh yeah, “the economy” not lookin’ so good

    Idiocracy President Camacho’s Speech
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PB1VnrSNcs

    I know shit’s bad right now
    with all that starvin’bullshit.
    And the dust storms. And we runnin’
    out of French fries and burrito coverings.
    And the dust storms. And we runnin’
    out of French fries and burrito coverings.
    [ Man ]
    Yeah!
    – But I got a solution.
    – That’s what you said last time, dipshit!
    I got a solution.
    You’re a dickl
    – South Carolina, “whassup?”
    – [ All Cheering ]
    That’s what I thought!
    Now, I understand everyone’s
    shit’s emotional right now…
    but listen up.
    I got a three-point plan
    to fix everything.
    [ Man ]
    Break it down, Camachol
    Number one,
    we got this guy, Elon Musk.

    – Number two, he’s got a higher
    I.Q. Than any man alive.
    – [ Cheering ]

    – And number three, he’s gonna fix everything.
    – [ Applause]

    I give you my word
    as president.
    He’ll fix the problems
    with all the dead crops.
    He’s gonna
    make ’em grow again.
    – Crops?
    – And that ain’t all. I give you my word.
    [ Electric Guitar]
    He’s gonna fix
    the dust storms too.
    I give you my word.
    He’s gonna
    fix the “ecomony.”
    [ Electric Guitar Continues ]
    And he’s so smart…
    – he’s gonna do it all in one week.
    – [ Crowd Cheering ]

    Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=idiocracy

  5. Chevron CEO Mike Wirth:

    “Capacity is added by de-bottlenecking existing units; by investing in existing refineries. But what we’ve seen over the last two years are shutdowns. We’ve seen refineries closed. We’ve seen units come down.

    “We haven’t had a refinery built in the United States since the 1970s.

    “My personal view is there will never be another new refinery built in the United States.” — ZH

    Eric has long said that Biden’s fedgov would try to kill IC-engined vehicles by restricting the fuel supply.

    Chevron’s CEO just told us that Eric’s right. Chevron can’t build new US refineries in a hostile regulatory climate. It’s against public policy.

    It’s the same strategy as indirect gun control by restricting the ammo supply.

    I object like hell.

    • It’s a shame these companies don’t simply ignore government, much as VW should have done for “Dieselgate”.

    • It’s the same with power plants, your EV isn’t going anywhere if there isn’t any electricity to charge it. The midwestern grid is issuing warnings about rolling blackouts along with California because all the older coal/gas/nuclear power plants are being retired with nothing to replace them. Kind of like moving out of your house onto the street before your next house is even built……except it’s never getting built because of the uber-greenies/“climate change” bozos insistence on “renewable energy”. By the time (or maybe IF with these idiots) it finally sinks in that windmills and solar panels aren’t going to cut it we’ll all get to find out what it’s like to live in a third world country.

      • The push is on for electrification, yet the 2-gigawatt Mystic Generating Station is slated to shut down in 2024.

        How many therms of Unicorn Farts does it take to replace a 2-gigawatt “fossil” plant?

      • My local “power” company is (wanting to) closing ALL of its coal plants (some that should have decades of life left) by 2030 (that year yet again, hmmmm). Never mind that 75%+ of the power comes from coal.

        At least recently they are realizing 2030 seems very unlikely to actually happen. So they have become wishy washy about the end date for coal.

        If actual reality would happen, there will be coal for decades to come yet. Corporate virtue signaling is so much worse than an individual person virtue signaling, since you can’t ignore your power company.

    • I don’t think this is true. How are they going to power jets without jet fuel? How are they going to build roads without asphalt? How about all the industrial uses for kerosene and naphtha? If they want all that, they’re gonna have to refine oil. If they’re gonna refine oil, the oil companies are going to want to sell it.

      But let’s assume you’re right. The question is what we’re going to do about it. Gotta demand action from Repubs when they get back in power. As unlikely as that is to happen, it’s about our only shot. Pull back EPA fleet regs should be top priority once we have supply coming back online.

      • Hi Levi,

        I think the problem here – with regard to your comment – is the false premise that these people are well-intended. I submit it is their deliberate intention to enserf us, in part by throttling energy. And the Republicans? The same ones who stood up to the weaponization of hypochondria and who now are “standing” so manfully in favor of “reasonable” restrictions on the right of people who aren’t criminals to own firearms?

        • I can’t recall who I was replying to there, but it wasn’t your article.

          I suppose my question is, what’s the solution? There is a LOT of doomsaying in your articles. Do you really have zero hope at this point?

          • Hi Levi,

            “Do you really have zero hope at this point?”

            Not at all! I hope I haven’t conveyed that. Indeed, the whole reason for my getting out of bed is because I remain hopeful. This doesn’t mean I am naive, though. A great deal of trouble is headed our way; much of it is already here. The question then becomes: How do we deal with it? For myself, the answer is: Stay focused on objective reality. Do not give in to the lies. And, most o fall – do not give up hope!

  6. Video game mentality. Self-drivers are already in existence. Just play any of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Heck, even the 1980s quarter sucking classic Out Run! game had ’em. Should be easy-peezy to map that stuff into the real world, right? After all, the game emulates real life, in that there are roads, stop lights, pedestrians, hot coffee…

  7. I’m the very first year (i.e., oldest) of the Gen X. That doesn’t look “cool” to me, not in the slightest and that’d be whether it was EV or not. I like a whole lot of different cars, in different ways but that is just retarded. So is the body style of most Tesla’s that I’ve seen (if not all), they just look stupid.

    There’s a whole lot categories of “cool” IMO, but here let me just focus on one. Techno + Luxury. You know what is cool? A freaking Mercedes S-550 with the highest trim level. Now THAT is freaking cool. Elegant, sophisticated, techno galore, comfort, style, …, you name it.

    If I make it through this conflagration of the economy, not living in a cardboard box, I want to get a used S-550 for the wife to replace the A8 which IMO is also very cool on similar measurements.

      • Hi Nate,

        Both the Tesla and the Bolt are stupid – if the measure of that is whether they are more practical or affordable to own and drive than an otherwise similar non-electric car. Neither are. Both cost absurdly much for what you get, especially as regards the Bolt – which is otherwise a subcompact “economy” car that costs twice what an otherwise-equivalent, actually economical car costs. The whole thing is retarded – a term that’s out of vogue but no less apt for being so.

  8. EV’s pollute more

    NOTE: The biggest pollutant emitted from new cars because they have so low emissions are from tires wearing out while driving, tire particles polluting the air with microplastics .
    ATTENTION: Electric cars weigh 30% more than gas powered cars so have higher tire wear, so EV’s pollute more, EV’s eat up tires.

    According to a 2019 article in National Geographic, modern tires are made in part from petroleum-based plastics that require between 7 gallons of oil to make a car tire and up to 22 gallons for truck tires.

    Moreover, emerging research suggests that the tiny particles of these plastics shed from tires and the other myriad of household and industrial products could be the next environmental crisis in the making as they find their way into water supplies and wildlife.

    John Weinstein, professor of physiology at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, studied shrimp exposed to microplastics and found that these pieces got caught up in their guts and in their gills, with devastating results.

    Worldwide 80% of electricity is produced by oil, gas and coal. electric cars aren’t zero emission they are remote emission. In China most teslas are coal powered. In the U.S. 40% are coal powered.

    The emissions at the power plant, where the EV gets it’s electricity, are far higher then what comes out of the exhaust pipe of a modern ice vehicle. ICE engines will be banned because they are not zero emission, .00001% contaminants is too high, this is insanity (the emissions at power plants are way higher).

    The new gas powered cars run so clean they have very very low emissions, very close to zero like .00001% contaminants. The exhaust coming out of a modern diesel is cleaner then the air in a big city.

    https://www.westernjournal.com/tesla-owner-exposes-dark-secret-electric-cars/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=aa-breaking&utm_campaign=can&utm_content=firefly&ats_es=8c9571a6485783c15512ea4cd084139f&fbclid=IwAR1bBgMFPoLCKV4YayHPHA0ZUV4IZgIj6Ji4HgXMOY5LjtzaS8TA7PEWPvU

  9. Holy shit, I had no idea about this.

    So basically, one is completely unable to keep one’s hands at “10 and Two [o’clock]” as is technically required by the standard of operation for an automobile. There ARE no 10 and Two on that ridiculous toy!

    How the fuck does that get past regulators?

    We live in a goddamn cuckoo clock.

    • FP,

      10 and 2 is no longer recommended, due to the Claymore.

      9 and 3 or even 8 and 4 is preferred.

      Hand over hand steering also no longer recommended, it is now suggested to feed the wheel from one hand into the other.

      I take issue with 8 and 4 because of reduced leverage.

      I will admit that modern steering is geared differently, so that cranking the wheel 90 degrees in either direction gets you more than enough steering for most situations (still have to crank it around when backing up to one side or parallel parking).

      • Wow, really? (Quick search. Holy shit you’re right!)

        Thanks Publius!

        This seems crazy to me because of the manifest reduction in leverage, which hits me viscerally when I look at the picture of Elon’s Yoke, above.

        Actually, I usually drive at 8 and 12, for max leverage with my dominant right hand. I don’t think I’d be able to drive a Tesla with any level of comfort!

    • RE: “We live in a goddamn cuckoo clock.”

      Not a bad metaphor at all. A Willy Wonka cuckoo clock?
      Only, Willy is a monster & the short blue people I forget the name of are clones of Kathy Griffin & Woopie Goldberg?

      …Seems like it’s possible there’s room to maneuver.

      [Man, I do hope Eric’s tech guy gets those long URL’s to, ‘Word wrap’ so people can read the whole comment.]

  10. Didn’t a whole ship of cars become a blazing fire and sunk because some electric cars caught fire? Porsches and Ferraris down the drink. Elon is going to have to buy his own ship, no one their own right mind would ship their cars along with his or insure the whole mess?

    • HI Hans, after the transport ship fire I thought for sure that insurance rates were going to go up, and they may have, we probably will never know. However, your assessment is the way it should be that the EV cars insurance should go up and not the ICE cars, but as we all know how the game is played, they will raise all for the ‘collective’. So as usual, we all will pay more for EV crap.

  11. Tesla & EV in general are still in development mode. Not quite ready for prime time, yet uncle Joe is forcing them on us.

  12. The only way such yoke steering COULD work would require a steering ratio so radically high few if any could master it. One could definitely NOT take their eyes off the road, for even a nanosecond to use the touch screen. If you glance at the roadside, that’s likely where you will end up. My last Miata had a 15/1 ratio, and that was a bit much for every day driving, and I can’t imagine trying to manage a touch screen while driving it. The very fact that Tesla installed one calls their competence into question. Are they catching fire because that’s what huge battery packs do, or because of shoddy delusional engineering?

    • Re: steering ratios
      Modern cars are using electric assisted power steering with a physical linkage between the steering wheel and knuckle. The only way I see this yoke working is to completely steer the car by wire and program steering inputs to be progressive. The yoke, steer by wire and progressive steering angle ramping are all retarded. A must for Tesla.

  13. Who else thinks that the Cybertruck is never happening?

    While the EV F150 is a hugely impractical vehicle, especially for Texas right now given the current grid situation, Ford still delivered … something.

  14. Never driven a Tesla. Other than the silly yoke, does the car have conventional steering, or is it some sort of overengineered fly-by-wire? Seems like a yoke could sort of make sense if its rotational travel were limited to roughly that of an aircraft yoke while still achieving the full range of steering via a variable-ratio algorithm. That would take some getting used to.

  15. I think Elon is torn between being “Knight Rider” and “Magnum PI”, but Obama beat him to buying the “Magnum PI” estate, complete with tidal pool.

  16. This 3-year chart is a picture of a bubble stock inflation and collapse that’s about 60% complete — where “complete” means returning to its original baseline.

    https://tinyurl.com/bdddet54

    Three years ago (June 4, 2019), Tesla shares closed at $38.72.

    By Nov 4, 2021 (the high water mark), TSLA ended trading at $1,229.91 — nearly a 32-fold increase.

    Yesterday, TSLA fetched only $703.55 as the closing bell dinged, a decline of nearly 43% from the bubble peak.

    Yet the history of bubble stocks indicates they usually retrace ALL the way — to a sustainable baseline of intrinsic value, or even to zero. (See “internet bubble,” 2000-2002).

    This post is not a reco to buy or sell anything. Just saying that the title of ‘richest man in the world’ is ephemeral.

    Auto manufacturing — a competitive, capital-intensive, highly cyclical and long-mature business — is not a good foundation for a share price bubble.

    Its popping is no longer under Elon’s control. He’s along for the ride, without even a yoke or a brake pedal to deflect the coming uncontrolled [sic] flight into terrain.

  17. You have to watch the video to see the problem.

    The yoke is like handle bars on a bicycle. It’ll work for two-wheeled steel animals, but not for four.

    On Friday, Tesla’s stock price fell 75 dollars per share down to 700 USD.

    It’s a fire sale.

    Tesla stock is in ‘disposition mode’, as they say in the world of finance.

    Institutional investors want out. Blackrock is one, Vanguard another and State Street Corporation is another. They have millions of shares of Tesla.

    It don’t look too good.

    • ‘It don’t look too good.’ — drumphish

      Nope. And not just for Tesla, but for IC vehicles and the entire auto market.

      Back in the days of live-human commodity pit trading, the crude oil, unleaded gas and heating oil pits in New York closed at 2:30 pm eastern. Closing values are STILL reported at 2:30 pm, though the pits have been gone since Dec 29, 2016, replaced by 23-hour-a-day electronic trading that extends until 5:00 pm.

      Yesterday, unleaded gasoline “closed” at $4.2522 a gallon, at 2:30 pm. But by 5:00 pm when electronic trading ended, unleaded gas had ripped on up to $4.3082 a gallon. Chart:

      https://tinyurl.com/ydhat87u

      Thanks in part to “Joe Biden’s” mumbling, poorly-informed rant against inflation on Friday morning, wholesale gasoline has “gone parabolic.”

      This magnitude of oil shock affects the economy like a deep infrared burn affects a person. Afterward, they’re talking, still seemingly healthy. But in a few days, all their skin peels off and they die.

      As King Elon’s “pause all hiring now” message implies, the principal task facing auto makers in the next couple of years is survival.

      • If you bought early, at the 38.72 USD price, you can sell all the way to 200 and still make plenty of money. The 200 put option is one cent. Open interest is in the 16 hundreds, June 10 is close date. Bear markets can pay too.

        One million shares cost 39 million dollars in May of 2019. State Street has the money.

        The institutional investors have the paste boards to make a killing on options.

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