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Feds want to talk to Tesla about the Model S yoke steering wheel

NHTSA officials aren't sure if Elon's Knight-Rider-style wheel meets federal regulations.

NHTSA wants a closer look at this.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Roadshow on Friday it has reached out to Tesla following the news of its planned yoke-style steering wheel for the refreshed Model S electric sedan. The government agency did not say if the automaker has been in touch with regulators since it debuted the radical new wheel.

Tesla this week revealed the refreshed flagship sedan, along with a revamped Model X SUV, with the steering yoke grabbing eyeballs across the internet. Roadshow's Editor-in-Chief Tim Stevens has laid out why the design is a likely safety risk, but US regulators will certainly get to the bottom of it. NHTSA told Roadshow that on first glance it "cannot determine if the steering wheel meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard." If Tesla's in violation of the standards, the yoke will have to go.

The controversial yoke overshadowed the progress Tesla has made on its electric powertrain. The Tesla Model S Plaid Plus will do an estimated 520 miles on a single charge, according to the automaker. Bear in mind, a similarly priced Porsche Taycan Turbo S returns an EPA-estimated 192 miles. We beat that figure handily in our range testing, but it can't touch 520 miles, if Tesla's estimate shakes out. Based on past EPA testing of other Tesla vehicles, it's likely a valid estimate.

Stay tuned as NHTSA gets up in Tesla's business once again. Perhaps the agency will also have something to say about the fact the refreshed EV will shift into drive or reverse by "guessing" as it doesn't have a PRNDL shifter.

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