A cinema for drivers: car control displays are getting more and more complex
More and more automakers are integrating large displays into the dashboards of their vehicles – and not just luxury models. Huge screens are crammed into even the smallest cars, like the Renault Clio.
The latest trend is to replace the entire dashboard with a single screen.
“Today’s customers are more impressed with the screen size than the engine size,” says Jan Burgard, of automotive consultancy firm Berylls, linking this to the ubiquity of smartphones in society. modern.
Chinese automaker Byton was quick to respond to this trend, and its M-Byte is considered the current record holder for screen size – there’s not just one screen across the width of the car. , but also a touch screen integrated in the steering. wheel and on the central column.
German manufacturers are catching up and Mercedes now wants to steal the limelight from the Chinese with a Hyper screen for the new EQS. When the electric alternative to the S-Class launches in the second half of this year, its entire dashboard will consist of a continuous glass surface under which three screens merge, said chief design officer Gorden Wagener.
BMW has announced the next generation of iDrive, which will debut in the electronic car iX later this year, 20 years after the operating concept launched. It also relies on an XXL screen instead of many buttons, although it is not as wide as its competition.
However, the industry not only cares about the screen area, which in the case of the Mercedes measures a record 2.5 square meters, but also the depth of the screen. In the new Mercedes S-Class, the navigation graphics appear three-dimensional with an effect of depth that does not require special glasses.
Continental and the American start-up Leia have also opted for 3D screens. Leia says her display will be ready for mass production by 2022 and will feature seemingly solid warning signs.
In addition to all of those driver-focused screen landscapes, passengers enjoy enhanced in-flight entertainment displays. In the Porsche Taycan, for example, there is an equally large screen for the passenger, and the Byton M-Byte and on the Mercedes EQS Hyper screen have also made developments in this area.
It is not something limited to the luxury end of the market. The new Citroën C4, for example, has a rather conventional cockpit, but surprises with a nifty drawer above the glove box in which a touch pad can be fixed in a shockproof holder invisible to the driver.
While the trend is a lot of fun and excites designers like Gorden Wagener, it also draws criticism. A German court recently ruled that touch screens can be as distracting for drivers as a cell phone.
Critics also say fewer switches make cars harder to drive. In the new VW Golf, for example, almost all of the buttons have been replaced with fields of sensors, sliders and displays, and the car has been criticized in numerous tests for being very difficult to use.
“As long as cars have drivers, their attention has to stay on the road,” explains Guido Meier-Arendt, who studies the human-machine interface (HMI) for Continental. He believes that safety-critical functions such as windshield wipers, hazard lights or headlights should therefore always be activated with fixed physical controls. – dpa