Tesla Model S and X getting touchscreen gear shift — here's how it works

The new Tesla Model S has no gear shift
(Image credit: Tesla)

Tesla is apparently going to be switching the forward/reverse gear selection on updated Model S and X cars to be driven entirely from the touch display. A tweet by Tesla Owners Silicon Valley shows off the interface which involved a user dragging a little car icon upwards for forward and down for reverse. 

The video showing it off has already attracted some concern from the automotive community which sees this as something of a step too far. Tesla has been at war with buttons for some time now. The Model S is due for a big overhaul, with the 2021 model switching to a different design screen and a yolk-like steering wheel that’s been somewhat controversial. 

In addition to that reduced wheel, there is also a lack of control stalks, which in older cars have retained the traditional gear shift for changing the car’s direction. Tesla’s electric vehicles only have one forward gear, so it would only ever see any action when you were parking anyway. 

Back in January, Elon Musk tweeted that the new Model S (and presumably the updated Model X) would pretty much make up their own minds about what direction you were going. In the tweet he said, “No more stalks. Car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context & nav map. You can override on touchscreen.”

While all this seems massively controversial it’s probably just because a more traditional automaker would never consider this. For Tesla, though, it tends not to do things just because that’s how they’ve always been done. So why not lob the shift on the touchscreen? It’s not like you’ll be using it any time other than when you’re completely stopped anyway. 

Controls like turn signals and the horn are still available through the steering wheel via little touch controls. Perhaps things will change before launch, especially as different countries may have their own laws on how gears are approached in a car. 

There is always the chance your touchscreen will break, of course, leaving you with few options for what direction you are travelling. If this happens it’s probably best to just go with what the car wants and give Tesla a call to discuss persuading it to go into reverse. 

Source: Autoblog

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited as ever about how tech can make your life better. Ian is the editor of T3.com but has also regularly contributed to Tom's Guide.