Is the installation of a Yoke steering wheel legal?

Tesla Yoke Steering Wheel

Almost a year ago, Tesla presented a refresh of its Model S and Model X. The photos of the cabin surprised by the presence of a steering wheel called “Yoke”. Enough to unleash passions and bring Model 3 owners to mount this equipment offered by various more or less serious props.

On the roadster in 2017

It was on the presentation visuals of the future Tesla roadster revealed in 2017, and whose release has been postponed several times, that a steering wheel with a twisted shape was seen for the first time. On a machine at the concept stage: nothing very surprising. On the other hand, thinking about including this equipment in the early 2021 refresh of the Model S and Model X, which are more family-friendly by nature, has shaken people’s spirits more.

Especially when this rectangular steering wheel, devoid of its rim in the upper part, received the support of the RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer), the authority in charge of homologation and vehicle registration in the Netherlands. If this control instrument, in the form borrowed from the world of aviation and that of video games, is therefore approved for use on new Model S in the original configuration, this is not the case for the Model 3s.

A preventive approach

Can you legally drive in France with a Model 3 equipped with a Yoke steering wheel? This is the question that one of our readers, also a very active member of the Tesla Owners Club France, sought to answer. With no doubt a precise idea of ​​the difficulties he would encounter and the outcome of his approach. What does it matter if he himself is not interested in this transformation!

This precious work is above all a warning value for all those who, in France, drive with such equipment. Especially if they make videos that they then post on YouTube.

I personally investigated the legality of this modification, with Dreal and Tesla “Wrote Bertrand Moreau in a letter he sent to us.

Act 1: La Dreal refers to the manufacturer

The request made by our reader was very explicit, with supporting visuals. It began like this for Dreal and Tesla: “ I own a Tesla Model 3. This vehicle is standard homologated with the steering wheel shown in the top photo. Props designers suggest replacing it with the steering wheel (“Yoke”) in the bottom photo “.

For the attention of the Regional Directorate for the Environment, Planning and Housing, Vehicles subdivision, Bertrand Moreau continued: ” Can you please tell me if this change is considered significant by the Dreal (therefore requiring an isolated reception)? “.

The organization replied: This modification may call into question the regulated domain of management. Therefore, I invite you to request authorization from the manufacturer’s technical services prior to this modification. “.

Act 2: Tesla does not endorse the transformation

Following Dreal’s response, Bertrand Moreau therefore contacted Tesla’s headquarters in Chambourcy, Registration/Compliance department. After the joint presentation with visuals of the situation, he formulated his request as follows: “ Can you please tell me if this modification is approved by Tesla? Can be done by Tesla? If not performed by Tesla, does it compromise the warranty? “.

In return, the service of the American manufacturer specified that the installation of a Yoke steering wheel on a Model 3 ” is not possible in France and that any transformation outside Tesla would result in the loss of the warranty.

Act 3: The procedure to be carried out

Bertrand Moreau communicated Tesla’s position to Dreal. Regional management has not completely closed the door to transformation. But his second answer clearly suggests the obstacle course that an electric motorist would have to follow who would like to legally drive a Model 3 equipped with a Yoke steering wheel.

In the absence of validation from the manufacturer’s technical services, you will have to justify the compliance of the regulated areas impacted by the carrying out of tests at your expense. This may concern steering, anti-theft, behavior of the driving device in the event of an impact, identification of controls, electrical safety and anti-theft. The only accredited laboratory in France is UTAC in Montlhéry “, detailed the organization.

What is the approach carried out by Bertrand Moreau reminiscent of? First of all that those who drive on public roads with the Yoke steering wheel violate French regulations. However, it is not illegal to sell or buy this equipment in France. Or even to mount it on his car… since it is not used like this on the open roads.

To be able to drive legally on the latter, it will be necessary to obtain an isolated title receipt report (RTI) after having carried out the imposed tests at your own expense. This does not exempt you from informing your insurer of the transformation.

In short, such a project will be complex and expensive to carry out. As our reader says so well in his letter, the chances of obtaining satisfaction at the end of the process are ” more than uncertain “.

Fine of up to €750

Concretely, French motorists who post videos on YouTube where it is possible to identify them with their illegally transformed Model 3 risk “ fine of up to 750 euros “. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, the insurer is entitled to refuse compensation, because the vehicle no longer conforms to its homologated configuration following this significant modification “, emphasizes Bertrand Moreau.

Not to mention the loss of the manufacturer’s warranty, and the failure of the passage to the technical control that a return to the original configuration would however avoid.

The approval of equipment on a new car is not automatically valid for retrofitting on another model. This is the main lesson to be learned from the constructive approach taken by our reader who wishes to break the ripple effect initiated by a few bold Youtubers.

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