Photo: @hsumacher/Twitter | u/FridayTheDog111/Reddit
Tesla Cybertruck, Roadster, and the refreshed Model S and X will have a very unusual gearshift system. The company has developed a new steering wheel for these cars, which has no attached gearshift, and the process of switching gears has become automated. Yet the cars will still retain a manual control system for this function. There are no known compliance concerns related to the shift control configuration, NHTSA said, giving Tesla full authority to use the new gear-shifting method.
With Tesla removing the pivot levers and gearshift from the steering wheel, the controls have been transferred directly to the steering wheel in the form of buttons and scrollers, as well as to the main screen. In 'Smart Shift' mode, the vehicle itself controls the gear change. However, it can be turned off, in which case the rightmost button on the steering wheel will act as a gear lever. The leftmost edge of the screen also has an area where the gear can be changed.
Despite the belief by some that the method may be illegal, Tesla's decision to use a touchscreen gearshift control system does not violate any federal vehicle regulations, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) told The Verge.
NHTSA said it is aware of the new touchscreen gearshift control system and concluded that Tesla is not violating any safety standards with its new approach. The authority also announced that Tesla has certified the control system in accordance with all applicable safety standards. The Verge posted a copy of the text from an NHTSA email:
"NHTSA is aware of the touch screen shift control Tesla developed for its Model S and other vehicles. A properly configured transmission shift control operated by means of a touch screen interface would not violate federal motor vehicle safety standards. Also, Tesla has certified compliance with all applicable safety standards. At this time, there are no known compliance concerns related to the shift control configuration."
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