BMW Patents Even Weirder Steering Wheel Concept, One-Ups Tesla in This Regard

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Tesla presented a “yoke” steering wheel on Cybertruck in 2019 and from then on, everybody went crazy with the design. BMW is one of the carmakers with some of the weirdest steering wheel designs on the market but the Bavarians intend to one-up Tesla with something called a “steering handle.” There are certain parts of an automobile that will always be the same, no matter the year or the propulsion system. They’re symbols that transcend centuries and will always be a part of a car. Take the steering wheel, for instance: it’s enough to draw a circle with some spokes and everyone on this planet knows what it means. Or so we thought until someone challenged everything we knew about cars. That someone, you guessed it, was Elon Musk and it all started not with his vision to change the world through electrification, but with the introduction of the Cybertruck in November 2019. Everybody saw the tiny yoke excuse for a steering wheel and thought “this cannot be done,” like they did a lot of times before. But it was done less than two years later, despite the Cybertruck still being MIA, with the launch of the refreshed Model S. And then all hell broke loose. We recall BMW patented an even weirder design back in 2020 that pretty much resembles the yoke in an airplane, with the distinct quality it should fold away to allow for truly autonomous driving. BMW fell in love with the concept, as they followed with another folding steering wheel in 2021. Feeling something was amiss with that concept, they refined it just before Christmas with a simpler design, although just as weird as the previous. The unusual design tries to prepare BMW cars for the autonomous driving era, no doubt about that. What BMW fails to comprehend is that although a pretty cool company, it still depends on a lot of middle-aged and older customer base that would not look happy seeing the new design, let alone using it. It is of a folding type, you guessed it, and indeed it will declutter the cabin once folded, but who wants to buy a BMW and not drive it? The main feature of this steering handle BMW patented is the “angled gripping elements” that remain vertical at all times, while the main horizontal spoke rotates around its center axis. To us, it sounds a lot like how all steering wheels operate for the past 100 years, only they usually feature a clever design so that the driver doesn’t run out of “angled gripping elements” when they rotate the wheel at crazy angles, in a parking lot for instance. It’s not clear what problem is BMW trying to fix with these designs since the regular steering wheel still works perfectly, BMW cars included. Nevertheless, it seems it might be an existential problem at BMW headquarters since so many people spend so much time patenting these control devices. Who knows, they may be right in the end.