Cruise control positioning in the Model S

Cruise control positioning in the Model S

The other cars that I drive are BMWs and Toyotas, and have driven a Honda for 7 or so years in the past.

I'll probably get used to this in due course, but these are my thoughts after the first 1000 miles.

I find the position of the cruise control on the Model S a bit dangerous and am a bit concerned that I could get into a dangerous situation because of it.

In general, my experience with the other cars that I have driven is that the turn indicator is the most prominent lever and is the easiest to access. However, in the Model S, the cruise control seems to be very prominent on the left hand control area.

Often I find myself twiddling the cruise accidentally rather than the turn indicator.

Also given the fact that cruise stays on forever (i.e. even after parking and getting into the car later), I'm just concerned that I might activate it by accident and set the car to a high speed in a low speed road in traffic.

Anybody find the position of the cruise control awkward?

Thanks for your thoughts!

ZRO CO2 | 2 avril 2014

I should add, maybe age is making me a slow learner

fritzlan | 2 avril 2014

I love my model S but the positioning of the cruise control is retarded. Full stop.

Gadfly | 2 avril 2014

Fritz: That's why they have horse races!

Pungoteague_Dave | 2 avril 2014

A small point. The steering wheel and switch gear are similar to that in all current Mercedes, but purchased from the same supplier that Mercedes uses, under license from Mercedes. Mercedes does not sell the parts directly to TM. Mercedes, like Tesla, makes no actual car parts except the body. Tesla also assembles batteries, a fact that is unique to them, although the actual contents are made by Panasonic. Almost everything else at both TM and Mercedes, from wiring looms to tires, is sourced from parts suppliers under design licenses and criteria established by the car maker's engineers and designers.

In terms of ergonomics, I find the Mercedes switchgear placement to be better and more logical after a period of use. This become more obvious when switching back and forth to our ICE vehicles. You get used to it.

Brian H | 2 avril 2014

Age doesn't so much make one slow to learn, as reluctant. ;)

CraigW | 2 avril 2014

I have driven a 60 since JAN 2013 and put over 20,000 miles on it. I absolutely agree the Cruise Control is in a dangerous position. I have mentioned this before and taken grief from MB owners. It is dangerous and I continue to trip the cruise control when trying to use the turn signals. If I have the cruise control on, this often changes my speed either up or down - not good.

There is no reason for Tesla to copy a poor design from MB, except that they use the MB steering wheel. If they design their own steering wheel I hope they at least use a much shortened lever for cruise control, even though I would prefer they transfer it to the right side of the column, like most other car manufacturers.

Brian H | 3 avril 2014

As others have mentioned, with hands at 9&3 o'clock, the levers are perfectly positioned, and 9&3 is recommended for safety (air bag injuries are reduced).

Consider learning to do it right! ;p

CraigW | 4 avril 2014

Brian H,
Yes I have heard that several times, but 1) you don't drive with your hands in one position - the road changes direction - and 2) it would be much more effective if the earlier suggestion to shorten the Cruise Control lever so that it is not the 1st thing your hand hits were implemented in the design.

I, personally, would like to see the lever in the more common position on the right side of the wheel. Whichever your personal preference, however, the size and shape of the lever needs to be changed for safety reasons.

LEvans | 4 avril 2014

I love knowing the location of the cruise control lever regardless of the rotation of the steering wheel. Works great in my Mercedes and will be a smooth transition when I switch to a Tesla :)

You'll get used to it and the buttons are going to feel silly.

Something you can't do with the buttons is changing the speed in 1mph increments or 5mph increments. If you pull the lever up to the second detent you adjust the speed in 5mph increments. If you pull it up to the first detent you adjust in 1 mph increments. You can;t do that with buttons on the wheel.

AmpedRealtor | 4 avril 2014

@ CraigW - I have never, in my 25 years of owning cars, seen a lane change stalk placed on the right side of the steering wheel.

J.T. | 4 avril 2014

@Amped I believe CraigW was referring to the cruise control stalk.

AmpedRealtor | 4 avril 2014

Yes, JT, it helps if I read.

CraigW | 4 avril 2014

I will be coming into Mesa this month again. Call you when I stop at Buckeye. Thanks for the talk last time through.

AmpedRealtor | 4 avril 2014

@ CraigW - Yay, we have our very own supercharger now! :) We are finally on the map. I would love to chat with you. We can grab a burger. | 4 avril 2014

I quickly got used to the lever positions, even though they were quite different from my last car. My only gripe is that I can never tell what setting my wipers are set to because the stalk is nearly always hidden by the steering wheel.


BobN @US-CA-SoCal | 4 avril 2014

@omar +1

michelcolman | 2 mai 2014

I don't have a Tesla (yet), but do drive a Mercedes which apparently has the same cruise control stalk.

What surprised me, though, is that apparently they use the same lever as a Mercedes but it works differently (if I understood correctly). On a Mercedes, pushing the tip of the stalk switches back and forth between cruise control and speed limiter. And I absolutely love the limiter function, which I use instead of cruise control. Not to respect the speed limit (which I don't), but actually to set my desired cruising speed.

I set the limiter to whatever speed I want to drive (usually 160 km/h), and let my foot rest on the gas. The car now keeps that speed exactly as if it were on normal cruise control. When there's traffic ahead, I just lift my foot up from the gas and the car smoothly slows down. No need to switch anything off or tap the brakes. Then, when the road is clear again, I smoothly push the gas pedal back down and accelerate back to cruising speed (at the rate of my choosing). When reaching cruising speed, the car maintains that speed again. No need to re-engage anything, because the limiter was never switched off. I only have to set the limiter once, at the start of the trip.

Also, from a safety point of view, I rather prefer a car that allows me to go slower but not faster rather than the other way around. I don't like the feeling of a car powering ahead when I let go of all the pedals. Also there's a very subtle psychological difference in how easily you tend to slow down when necessary. When something happens down the road which makes you a bit uneasy (a car swerving a bit, for example), you don't tend to immediately switch off the cruise control because that requires actually tapping the brakes or hitting the lever. So you tend to keep going at the same speed (too fast, really) without switching it off. On the limiter, however, I naturally let go of the gas a lot more easily. And then reaccelerate when it feels safe again.

O, and you never have the problem of the car accellerating when you accidentally hit the switch. When the stalk is in speed limiter mode instead of cruise control, the worst that can happen is that the car stops accellerating or gently slows down. And you can always just push down hard on the gas pedal to activate the switch under the pedal that cancels the limiter.

So for me, the limiter is a lot safer and easier to use than the cruise control while achieving the same result, a constant cruising speed.

Gadfly | 2 mai 2014

The CC is in fact supplied by Merc, and has always been in the same upper left hand position on the Merc. You will get used to it.

My big problem is whenever I go to drive my wife's Highlander [as seldom as possible] i turn on the windshield wiper trying to put it in gear.

jordanrichard | 2 mai 2014

Mercedes-Benz has had their cc stalk in that position since the beginning of time. In the past, you just simply push the stalk up for a moment and your speed was set. At some point they change it to where you had to turn it on first before setting it.

Gadfly | 2 mai 2014

For me, the best feature of the MB cc was that you did not have to turn it on first. I'm happy the MS version allows that.

NoVinNoMore | 2 mai 2014

I have the issue that I need to push several times for the +5 km/h feature to kick in. When I push up fully it goes up by one km/h and I need to push several times for it to accelerate by 5. Don't know if this is a software or hardware issue or if it just meant to be so. Irritating but not a problem. Any ideas?

Suturecabre | 2 mai 2014

The stalk is the same as my S550 and there's no going back if you ask me.....It's too bad they didn't add the Distronic Plus as well, the lever itself is the same but you are able to set the distance to follow for the cars in front of you as well as the speed. It'll brake pretty hard all the way to zero when coming up on traffic, and then start driving once traffic begins moving again, so it is useful. I think it uses radar while the parking sensors use ultrasound so they would have to add another opening somewhere on the front of the MS. The side benefit to having both on the S550 is that there were no bullet-hole cutouts for the parking sensors as they could piggyback on the radar giving the bumpers a cleaner look, but I think they stopped doing this after the 2010 facelift because the individual sensors were more accurate off center in close range.

Gadfly | 2 mai 2014


I have found is a bit touchy as well. For me the plot five works best when I give it a good an quick definitive crisp push up. If I do it too slowly it only goes up one or two.

jjaeger | 4 mai 2014

Folks should consult the Owners Manual occasionally - or at least when something is not operating as expected or consistently. Below from the manual - and best to see the picture for the 'positions' referenced:

- Push the lever up/down to the first position and release to increase/decrease speed by 1mph (1km/h).
- Push the lever up/down to the second position and release to increase/decrease the speed by 5 mph (5km/h).
- Hold the lever up or down to increase/decrease the speed in 2 mph (2km/h) increments until your desired speed is reached.

J.T. | 4 mai 2014

@jjaeger Folks should consult the Owners Manual occasionally

William9 | 4 mai 2014

I have a MB S550 so the CC stalk is perfect for me. My problem is when I drive my Porsche Boxster and pull into the garage I invariably push the wiper stalk in to turn off the engine. Of course doesn't do that, but does activate windshield wiper with a spray.

wcalvin | 4 mai 2014

Just spent ten days away from my Tesla, driving our 2004 Lexus LS430. There the cruise control lever is short and stubby. Much better design.

NoVinNoMore | 4 mai 2014

Well I guess it was user error. I had consulted the manual but just did not push firmly enough. Thanks Gadfly! I i I agree that it is a bit touchy at times.

Gadfly | 4 mai 2014

Odd: for me it often increases by 6 mph. Maybe I am going to slowly and it is additive ...

hpjtv | 4 septembre 2014

Took a test drive 2 days ago. Cruise control lever was the first thing about the vehicle I didn't like.... and probably the only thing I didn't like (driving wise anyways). Constantly mistaken it for the turn signal. It should be buttons on the steering wheel. I will just have to learn to get used to it.

michelcolman | 4 septembre 2014

They took the same arrangement as Mercedes, even using exactly the same stalks. So for me it felt perfectly natural.

However, Mercedes has just changed the stalks on their newer models. They have swapped the two stalks and made the cruise control stalk a bit shorter. They said it was because too many people were accidentally hitting cruise control instead of the indicator, but of course you can guess what happened to me multiple times when I first drove one... Accellerating instead of indicating, flashing my headlights instead of switching CC off (looking like a jerk to the traffic ahead), etc...

By the way, if you're in the left lane and a car approaches behind you flashing its lights once, it doesn't necessarily mean they're being agressive and want you to move out of their way, they might just be having trouble with their cruise control stalk like I did :-)

Apparently the new setup with CC below the indicator stalk is kind of a new standard now, with major European car makers agreeing to at least all use the same configuration. But now I wonder what Tesla's going to do. Keep the old configuration not to confuse existing owners, or switch to the new configuration like Mercedes did. Either way, there will be complaints.

cynix | 4 septembre 2014

But now I wonder what Tesla's going to do. Keep the old configuration not to confuse existing owners, or switch to the new configuration like Mercedes did. Either way, there will be complaints.

Easy — just make it user-configurable in software.

J.T. | 4 septembre 2014

@cynix Easy — just make it user-configurable in software.

Even easier-- make the configurtion an option. Choose where you want the CC, the directionals, the wipers, the hi-beams. How hard can that be?

DTsea | 4 septembre 2014

J.T. Changing the position of physical controls and the size and location of steering column internal switching?

Sounds hard to me.

Kimscar | 4 septembre 2014

@tesown everyone is different. I myself would completely disagree with you. I love the positioning. Now I go from driving a Saturn sedan with cruise control. Completely different. I find I can without thought flick my fingers to engage, disengage or lift to turn on cruise control. I got it to a science. If I want 45 I can accelerate rapidly and lock in 45 without thinking. For me really cool. Same for the turn indicators. They just feel right to me.

Having said all that I would be the first to say I can understand everyone is different and some won't like it.

David Trushin | 4 septembre 2014

It only takes a short amount of time to get used to it. It is something you have to get used to. Car manufacturers are always moving this around. Sometimes it's buttons on the steering wheel, sometimes on one of the stalks. If this is a big issue for you, shop cars that have cruise the way you like it.