Why is this a thing?
If you’re normal, you like your steering wheels like your women: thick. All joking aside, not everyone enjoys a thicker steering wheel and some people like them thinner. GM seems to think this all has to do with hand size, which to a degree that might be true. That might be why the automaker recently patented a design for a steering wheel filled with a gel-like substance to get you that perfect Goldilocks-sized steering wheel.
Learn why GM is sharing your driving data with the government here.
This unique design involves a bladder surrounding the steering wheel rim and a pump which can introduce more of the gel-like fluid into the bladder or suck out excess. This sounds kind of like power adjustments for your seat, only a little grosser. Originally, this patent was filed back in December of 2020 but was published just a few weeks ago, which is why nobody knew about it until now.
The cool part is you get to choose how you like your steering wheel to feel, although we have plenty of questions about this fledgling technology. Would the steering wheel feel firm or would it have a squishy quality to it? How durable will this bladder be and how many recalls will GM have to issue for it malfunctioning?
Also, can you still have a heated steering wheel and this gel-filled bladder thing? What about a massaging steering wheel by oscillating the flow of the gel at different frequencies, you know to keep your hands from feeling tired while you’re on a long-distance road trip?
We truly live in ground-breaking times when automakers are tackling the most important topics like steering wheel thickness. Also, with GM turning more toward battery-electric powertrains, adding more powered accessories will definitely help with range, not to mention retail costs. Hopefully we as taxpayers have the privilege of bailing GM out yet again in the near future, because these types of civilization-saving innovations are sure worth it.
H/T: GM Authority
Images via GM, United States Patent And Trademark Office