The two things Toyota has done to fix Tesla’s butterfly flywheel – Tech – Hybrids and Electric

Toyota has just introduced the bZ4x, the first of the fully electric cars in the new Beyond Zero family of the Japanese manufacturer. Five models, from bZ1 to bZ5, according to the proprietary names, which will be based on the e-TNGA platform (Toyota New Global Architecture). This electric SUV of the D segment brought inside a novelty very similar to the one that has caused so much controversy in the renewal of the Tesla Model S: a butterfly-shaped steering wheel, without top ring. Nevertheless, Toyota has done two things that the Californian manufacturer has not done So what They solve the main problem that this flywheel causes.

Controversies and criticism of Tesla’s yoke-shaped steering wheel, without a top ring and touch buttons, have made headlines in the press. The advantages of not having a top ring for facilitate visibility the road and instrument cluster are overshadowed by inconvenience for maneuvering at low speed. However, Tesla has continued with its idea, in such a way that it has even incorporated it into the Model X, which also implements them in its first units.

When Toyota introduced the prototype of its first fully electric car, the bZ4x, it surprised everyone with a similar idea. The same steering wheel and the same reason: to improve visibility. A few days ago, Toyota’s electric SUV was presented in its final production version in which Toyota seems to have learned its lesson and introduced two changes that solve problems that Tesla has not solved.

Steering wheel yoke butterfly tesla model s

Tesla’s butterfly-shaped steering wheel makes it difficult to maneuver at low speeds. The manufacturer has not implemented a steer-by-wire system nor does it offer the possibility of choosing a round steering wheel.

The first of the changes is that, although many images that appear in the press of the presentation of the production version maintain the butterfly-type steering wheel of the prototype, on the manufacturer’s website it is appreciated that at least there will be the possibility of choosing a conventional steering wheel with top ring. A feature demanded of Elon Musk through social networks and that the CEO of Tesla has been charged time and again to deny: there will be no round steering wheel option for Tesla electric cars.

The other feature that Toyota has included in the bZ4x is one direction by wire, completely mechanically separated from the wheels. A technology that seemed to be present in the Tesla Model S because the manufacturer is developing it in its R&D center. However, when it began to deliver the first units of the Model S Plaid, a month ago, it was surprising that the steering wheel had the usual 14.0: 1 turn ratio, with a large steering angle at low speeds, which complicates slow maneuvers. Elon Musk has confirmed that they continue to work on it, but that it still has “years of development” left.

Toyota has won the game by implementing it in the bZ4x. In this way, the software allows adjust steering turn for low-speed situations and sharp steering wheel turns. The steering thus becomes a completely electronic system, apparently without a mechanical connection between wheels and steering wheel. Apparently because in reality there must be it even if it is not functional, only as a security measure, since the legislation requires it to prevent a possible failure of the electronic system.

Toyota bZ4x round steering wheel

The Toyota website shows a bZ4X with a round steering wheel.

Advantages of Toyota’s steer-by-wire system

First, lock-to-lock set a turning angle of 150 degrees, eliminating the need to change grips with your hand grip while turning. This makes it easier for the driver to perform low-speed maneuvers, such as parking with L or U-turns, since turning the wheels will not require changing the steering wheel grips. It also makes driving on winding mountain roads easier.

The steering touch it is improved thanks to the electronic and independent control between the steering torque that the driver feels and the angle of the wheels. In addition, the sensations transmitted by the steering can be modified thanks to the menu is selected so that it is included in the control system of the car.

The system filter vibrations that the tires move to the steering wheel, blocking the unnecessary ones and letting the necessary ones pass, those related to the road. The system controls the movement of the tires to ensure vehicle stability when driving on uneven surfaces or when the Lane Tracing Assist function is activated.

One-touch twisting grip provides more legroom, which improves driving position and makes getting in and out of the car easier.

The Toyota bZ4X presented on October 29 is not the European version that will be known on next December 2, although the brand assures that there will be few differences between the two. Toyota expects to be able to launch this electric SUV in the first half of next year, at which time the final specifications, commercial range and price will be revealed.

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