With the Tesla Model S Plaid lacking gear stalks, and instead relying on touch controls or automatic gear selection by the vehicle’s computers (or the touchscreen), there’s also a physical fallback option for drivers in the event buttons or the touchscreen is inoperable.
According to the owner’s manual for the Model S Plaid, the new touch panel is a simple contraption: a touch-sensitive panel at the bottom of the center console with a button for each of the four gears.
The console is usually inactive. It activates automatically in the event that the touch panel is unavailable, and can also be activated manually. When active, each gear button is illuminated by LEDs, and the button for the selected gear is illuminated amber.
There are gear selector options for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and a hazard option.
Tapping on one of the gear buttons on the panel wakes it up, and a consequent tap on one of the four gears will shift the vehicle into the corresponding gear. The gear selector also activates automatically in Valet Mode and Transport Mode.
As noted in the owner’s manual, a number of limitations, restrictions, and rules apply to Tesla’s new gear-shifting mechanism.
The Model S Plaid just began deliveries, so public opinion on the change is mixed at best. With first-hand feedback pouring in, we should see a clear opinion on the new shift mechanism forming in the days and weeks to come.
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