When one needs to have a look at the driving controls of tomorrow, they might easily do that by looking inside a Tesla electric car. They can be immensely unnerving to e-vehicle newbies with the minimalistic steering wheel and dashboard dial display, as well as the touchscreen that does everything from checking the car’s status to being a multimedia platform. At least, somehow, the steering wheel with the stalk levers is a familiar sight. But even that has changed following a new driver redesign Tesla has put on their Model S and Model X, replacing the gear selector with a “predictive” drive system, and manual drive select control via touchscreen.
The Verge tells us that in the face of concerns with their most radical driving change yet, Tesla is assuring the public that their automated gearshift to the point of removing the gear selector from the steering wheel of their e-cars is not in violation of federal motor regulations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) itself has vouched that there were no rules broken by the auto-shifting and touchscreen manual control, which the e-vehicle manufacturer introduced earlier this week.
A number of longtime drivers have expressed concerns with the new gear setup for the Model S and X. Completely removing a physical mechanism for changing gears, and relegating it to a touchscreen is perceived as a risky change, since gear-shifting is a safety-critical function. The NHTSA remarks that it finds no compliance concerns with Tesla’s shift control configuration, though their statement comes with the operative phrase “at this time.” This hints that there have been no reported accidents caused by the unorthodox gear-shift control scheme, as the revamped Tesla e-cars are only now being distributed to customers. This means that Tesla car-owners with the new gear system would have to report if they had trouble with the new gear-shifting.
Federal law mandates that automakers themselves must certify that their vehicles meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that applies. If Tesla says their system that automatically shifts between Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive (PRND) while leaving manual gear-changing to a touchscreen display is compliant with the above, then it is so; at least, until enough accidents on account of the alteration happens, only then might an inquiry happen.
Image courtesy of Motor1.com