Steering Wheel switch functions

Steering Wheel switch functions

I'm guessing that the controls on the steering wheel - the actual buttons/rocker switches - are going to be programmable. Perhaps there'll be a "settings" screen on the main display where you can assign various functions to the existing switches.

I assume obvious things other cars have like "cruise control: set/unset/accel/decel" and "raise/lower volume" and "pick up the phone" would be choices.

What other options/controls would you want to be able to assign?

EdG | October 7, 2011

If I'm not mistaken, elsewhere Elon was quoted as saying the amount of regen that is applied when removing your foot from the accelerator pedal (there's got to be a better word for that thing - I can't call it a "gas pedal", and its function is to set speed, not acceleration.... anyway...) will be user configurable.

Putting this setting on the steering wheel switches might seem a bit strange - at first blush it would seem you'd want to keep the amount of regen pretty constant - at whatever level you like, but constant. On second thought, though, I'd like to be able to increase or decrease that amount with a rocker switch while I'm driving.

I'm driving on a lonely, flat road, and there's a red light far ahead. I want to slow down, but not much. Actually, I'd like to just coast along. Little or no regen would be best. Apply pressure the the bottom of the rocker to temporarily reduce regen.
I'm driving slightly downhill toward a light, and I'd like to apply more regen than normal to stop. I like to avoid braking as much as possible (maximizing regen would be a driver's game), even though very little braking would be needed here. Pressure on the top of the rocker (temporary regen increase) is applied.

The next time I hit the accelerator, the regen amount goes back to my previously set default.

Clearly there's a safety issue here if too much regen is used and other drivers are following -- they won't see the brake lights go on. Or does the use of regen turn on the brake lights? Perhaps when the regen level used goes above a certain "deceleration" the brake lights can come on, or perhaps the top level of regen could be limited to some pre-determined safe level, set by Tesla, if the brake lights must remain independent of regen usage.

Timo | October 7, 2011

Roadster has its brake lights on without actually braking if car is doing regen, I assume same applies to Model S.

"torque pedal"? That's what it really does, it sets the amount of torque to wheels. Even the regen is torque, only negative.

Volker.Berlin | October 7, 2011

I'd like to flip through different views of satnav information on the small screen (behind the steering wheel, not the 17" touch screen). There are probably multiple ways of displaying navigation information, from a plain simple big easy-to-read arrow, to detailed information like traffic ahead, estimated arrival time and estimated range left at destination, to a preview of the next 3 or 4 turns, and a "repeat voice" option. This should be available without having to turn hand and attention to the 17" touch screen.

Trnsl8r | October 7, 2011

I read that the US configured Roadsters light up their brake lights when the car slows down significantly, foot on brake or not, whereas the European laws don't allow that and brake lights can only come on if the brake pedal is applied. (I guess European drivers, with stick shift being more common, are more used to engine brakers, but that's another topic.)

Cruise control, phone/stereo control, and small screen info shifting seems like the natural stuff to me. I don't think I would want to fiddle with regen settings while driving, sounds about as dangerous as that 17-inch screen...

jbunn | October 7, 2011

My wife's Volvo C70 has the cruise buttons right. As I recall, just 4 buttons - On/Off and Plus/Minus. Turn it on, hit plus and you're cruising. Want to go 2 miles slower? Press minus and hold. Or faster? Press plus and hold.

My Ford explorer has gotten it wrong. About 6 buttons - On/Off, Set, Coast, Resume, etc. To go a little faster, you have to hit the gas, then hit the set button. Lots of fiddling about.

In her car, I can drive in heavy traffic with just my right thumb. It's elegant simplicity, and I hope Tesla builds theirs that way.

Ford, on the other hand got the right side controls great. Full control over audio and cabin climate without taking my hands off the wheel.

Controls I would like in my Tesla - Cruise, Cabin Heat, Fan, Volume, Audio Source, Audio program Up/Down.

gjunky | October 7, 2011

I would like to see:
On one side, dedicated volume controls (two buttons or roller like Audi) with two buttons for the phone control (answer, hang up).

On the other side I would like to see an up, down, select and back. These four buttons can control a list of functions on the gauge cluster display (the one in front of the steering wheel).

I don't want to have to reach for the center 17" display for volume or phone functions. I want to be able to keep my hands at 9 & 3 for those.

With the additional four buttons, one would be able to control anything they add to the list on the cluster display. This works similar to what VW has on their display. It doesn't require you to take you hands of the wheel and although you have to look at the display, it is right in front of you (no need to look to the center one).

It would give you the best of both worlds: Fixed button functions on one side and generic usage on the other.

As to the AC functions, I think Tesla did a wonderful job grouping these functions on the bottom of the display where you have a point of reference (the edge of the display) and will almost be able to control them by touch without having to look at them (too much)

Overall, I am very excited about the combination of two screen in the car. It opens so many possibilities, not the least giving the option to allow skinning / themes. I also thought the current designs looked very clean

William13 | October 8, 2011

According to the engineers, Elon is passionate about minimizing the number of controls on the wheel. I fear there may be none.

Robert.Boston | October 8, 2011

I continue to be fascinated by the number of people who want HVAC controls at their fingertips. Perhaps I'm odd, but I set the temperature I want, once, and the car gets itself there. And I leave it there. This works when you can set the actual temperature you want, not some vague "dark blue to dark red" scale.

In contrast, cruise control and audio selectors are controls that one must touch frequently throughout a trip. These deserve on-wheel locations.

I am assuming that the control wheels visible on the Beta steering wheels also are clickable. If that's true, a cleverly designed interface will allow cruise control to be handled by a single wheel (rotate up/down = set speed up/down; click = toggle coast/resume; long-click = on+set).

jbunn | October 9, 2011

Hi Robert,

To address your point, I have a thermostaticaly controlled car, but I'm constantly fiddling with the fan, and to some extent the temp. Climb in after a walk on a hot day, and I'm overheated. I might want max air at full fan. After a bit, I can turn down the fan and set the temp back it it's normal 68-70 range. Same true in the winter. On longer hauls the temp control is perfect for the job. It's mostly in the early parts of the drive on hot and cold days.

Now if the cabin has some degree of regulation automaticaly, this might help with some of the fiddling about.

Someone mentioned Elon was a fan of few controls. I am not. This is not a spartan sports car, and I want to drive by touch and not share my attention between the road, and the fan control.
Best Regards!

Brian H | October 10, 2011

It's the "goose pedal".

Slindell | October 10, 2011


Amperage adjuster, voltage vary-ier, go-juice gadget.

Sounds like we need a contest!

Volker.Berlin | October 10, 2011

Electron throttle.

Schlermie | October 10, 2011


Brian H | October 10, 2011

"Goose Pedal" has the advantage of sounding like "gas pedal", and flows directly from the common expression "goose it!"

Plus it's funny.

Vawlkus | October 11, 2011

I'm still calling it the "Go Pedal". If I feel verbose, I call it the "Go FASTER Pedal" }B)

Judging by the pictures, the wheel has two thumb buttons, or possibly thumbsticks, like an Xbox 360 controller. I'll bet that those two controls flick through/select options on the driver display, not the 17" in the center. If I recall correctly, both can be used to control/set options, and it keeps the drivers attention on his/her own space and on the road, rather than that 17" distraction.

I'd still rather the 17" was locked out during driving, but we'll wait and see on that (customer settable option perhaps?).

Brad Holt | October 11, 2011

I asked my driver at the factory event, and he said there'd be a lot more controls in the production model than what he had there (track, volume, something I interpreted that as "more buttons" but maybe the rollers will just be more capable!

Denis Vincent | October 12, 2011

Accelerator petal !

Volker.Berlin | October 13, 2011

:-D Flower power...

Brian H | October 14, 2011

All fails. "Goose it, James!" The goose pedal. Gotta be. >:-p >:)

the bonnie | October 15, 2011

I suppose each of us can call it what we want :) in our respective EVs.

Accelerator, go pedal, power all work for me. And torque could work.