To maneuver, turning, cornering, and controlling the car we need the steering wheel to assist us in doing this simple thing. The steering wheel can come in circular design, flat circular design and the butterfly design that is most commonly seen in the Formula 1 car. The steering wheel had become one of the most crucial things for our cars that even the commission in the US had made a mandatory that each car to have a steering wheel even though the car is an autonomous drive. Volvo had come with a selection mode of normal, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous where on the autonomous mode the steering can retract and fold inside the car. Like all the car parts the steering wheel too had some history that stretched back to 19th centuries

This can be a reality in the future

Before the steering wheel was invented, how do the drivers maneuver their car in that time? It was maneuvered using the filler. Since it does not replicate the natural movement of the human it becomes difficult and thing changed in 1894 when Alfred Vacheron that had taken part in the Paris – Roven race with Panhard 4 model which he had fitted with the steering wheel and this is believed to be the earliest deployment of this principle.

The Panhard 4 model was believed to be the first car with the steering

The invention by Alfred Vacheron and then Charles Rolls introduced the steering wheel in Britain car when he had imported the Panhard 4 model from France 4 years later in 1898. Then in 1904, Thomas R Jeffrey and his son Charles T Jeffery developed 2 advanced experimental car that features the mounted engine and a steering wheel that was mounted on the left-hand side. And in this year too, seeing the benefits of the steering wheel most of the car manufacturer during this time had replaced the filler which the steering wheel and from then now until today it becomes the ultimate direction controller for the car.

How does it benefit the car drivers at that time? The steering wheel circular design provides a better grip and it replicates the human movement for controlling direction hence it becomes a far better option for the direction control than the filler. But comes another problem. The steering in the past is quite hard to be manoeuvred due to design nature and due to this difficulty in 1926 Francis W Davis had demonstrated what to be believed as the first practical power steering but like all the technologies in the past it never been put in the production as it was deemed expensive during that time.

Then in 1951, the power steering becomes a reality when it was introduced by the Chrysler Corporation under their model Chrysler Imperial and the power steering was named as Hydroguide. Later General Motors(GM) introduced the power steering in Cadillac. Both had been done via the expired patent and the work done previously by Francis W Davis while he worked with GM. The power steering had become so popular and they are many types of power steering.

The Imperial model that had been fitted with the power steering

Hydraulic System Power Steering.

It works by using the hydraulic system to multiply the force applied to the steering wheel. This hydraulic comes from the rotary vane pump driven by the vehicle engine.


DIRAVI Power Steering system

Created by Citroen Motor in 1971 where it is basically a speed sensitive steering wheel using some hydraulic system. In this system, the amount of force inducted in the steering is based on the road speed. If it is under the low speed then the steering is light and on the high speed, it only applies a small force hence make it difficult to move.



A hybrid system where it uses the traditional hydraulic assist but the with the help of the electric motor. It was started by Ford in 1965 by experimenting with the fleet of “wrist twist instant steering” in their Mercury Park Lanes. Currently, most of the car like Ford, Volkswagen, Audi, Honda, Mazda, Skoda, Citroen and much more had applied this system in their model.


Fully Electric Power Steering

Electric power assisted steering (IPS/EPAS) or Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) using an electric motor and eliminated the use of the hydraulic system. In this system, a sensor detects the position and torque of the steering column and based on this a computer module will then applies assistive torque via motor which connects to the steering wheel. For now, only Tesla Motors had this type of steering system.

With a need to continuous innovation and helping the car drivers, the steering was not seen a directional control anymore but as an assistant for the drivers too. With this in their mind, Lincoln Motors in 1974 added two switches on their steering wheel to activate the cruise control and the control function on their Continental model.  Then in 1985, Pontiac Motors offered a steering wheel with 12 buttons controlling the audio function on their model Trans Am 6000 STE and Bonneville. Started from here most of the present car steering wheel had button or touchpad to control the infotainment system, audio, voice control, taking phone via Bluetooth, setting the car alarm system and many more function.

A typical car steering that has the multifunction steering wheel

What had started as a replacement for the filler now had become more than a directional control. The steering wheel in future may be a different thing. With the invention of the autonomous drive by Google, Apple, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz the steering wheel many not be frequently used anymore by the drivers or in some model it can be retracted of folded inside the car. Maybe the steering wheel will not be a steering wheel anymore but a joystick control like the Airbus cockpit cabin. Maybe the circular design will not be anymore but instead replaced by futuristic design like the one below created by Ford Motors.

Whatever the future steering wheel will be for now it is the ultimate directional controller for the car. Those whom able to master the steering wheel can be able to control their car in any situation and with the addition of the multi-function button on the steering wheel, it had become more than a directional control for the car.


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