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I asked this question on a trucking forum and the general consensus was that it would make backing up much harder. Does it eliminate any sort of blind spots?

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 15 '18 at 14:26
  • Agricultural tractors have centre mounted steering wheels - and from lots of experience backing up is the same for each side... – Solar Mike Mar 15 '18 at 14:39
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According to the Tesla site about the truck, the reason for the center mount steering wheel is:

Enhanced Autopilot helps avoid collisions, a centered driver position provides maximum visibility and control, and a low center of gravity offers rollover protection.

If you look at the (what I take to be an artist's rendition) of the cab of the truck looking out, you can see there isn't much room for it to be anything but a center placed steering wheel:

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The cab of the truck is quite narrow, which provides for better aerodynamics. These trucks (as far as I know) aren't made for long distance hauling, so most likely wouldn't have the availability of a sleeper or other things which conventional semi-trucks have need of.

With having visibility the same on both sides, it seems to me it would make it easier for backing the truck up. To me, the talk you are hearing elsewhere is just talk because truck drivers of conventional trucks are just "used to" how things are not equal in the side view mirrors. If they used this truck, they'd get used to the new paradigm very quickly whether they believe it or not. (Full Disclosure: Both my Dad and Father-in-Law were both truck drivers. I've done some driving myself.)

  • Okay. This truck seems to be narrower. Would this set-up also work in conventional trucks? ie, if I took a traditional truck and made it a center seater, would it offer the same benefits? – kiiler Mar 15 '18 at 16:07
  • @kiiler - I would believe so, but you wouldn't have the amenities of the conventional. One of the issues which would occur with conventional trucks is the placement of the engine, which would entail having to work the steering around it. Having it on the side makes this a lot easier. In Tesla's design, there's no need because I believe the electric motors are direct drive at the wheel. The steering wheel can go anywhere across the width of the cab and still work well. Having it centrally located as shown just works for the narrow cab, but does give the other added bennies. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 15 '18 at 16:18
  • we could adopt a drive-by-wire system which could get around the steering wheel placement problem for conventional trucks. Would it be beneficial then? – kiiler Mar 15 '18 at 16:32
  • @kiiler - I would bet the Tesla is already steer by wire, but yes you could possibly do that with a conventional truck. I'd also like to reiterate, having the steering wheel on the side of the vehicle is a lot more natural for an experienced driver than is having it in the center. It would take some getting used to by experienced drivers. This may seem like a trivial thing, but there would be a learning curve, one which may get bucked by the status quo. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 15 '18 at 16:36
  • One other consideration is that the Construction and Use regulations in the UK require a physical connection between the steering wheel and the steered wheels - a hydraulic only connection is not sufficient - so if the power assistance fails the truck can still be controlled : this may be the case in other countries as well. – Solar Mike Mar 15 '18 at 17:01

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