Did Tesla create a dangerous fad in our cars?`

XXL touchscreens that concentrate too many functions can dangerously distract the driver.

On the list of what characterizes a Tesla, there is the touch screen. Of course, the American company was not the first to offer this type of technology in a car. But from its first mass-produced vehicle, the Model S, it hit hard in this area. In 2012, its large sedan had a 17-inch screen. At the time, the average screen for GPS was pretty much 7 inches!

Equipment that was therefore found in the Model 3. If the screen for her is “only” 15 inches, it remains significantly larger than what the competition offers. Tesla even dared to remove the instrumentation behind the steering wheel. On this point, Tesla has not yet been widely followed.

In return, Tesla has largely contributed to the democratization of the XXL touchscreen. With one consequence: the disappearance of physical buttons for the car’s various functions. Even Porsche put an end to its sacred “one function = one button” with the touchscreen era!

Nothing beats the classic button

The concern is that this mod poses security issues. You’ve probably already noticed if your car is all about touch. Maybe you’ve already had a scare by getting lost in an air conditioner.

The Swedish magazine Vi Bilägare investigated the topic by conducting a test with eleven vehicles equipped with a touch screen. The driver had to perform a series of tasks, for example, turning on the radio and finding a defined station, activating the heated seat, increasing the temperature of the air conditioning by two degrees, starting the defrosting…

The point of comparison was a 2005 Volvo, which did not have a touchscreen. With it, the list of manipulations was completed in 10 seconds. With the Tesla Model 3, it was 23.5 seconds, more than double. However, the American sedan is not the worst. It took 25.7 seconds in the Volkswagen ID.3 and even 29.3 seconds with the Seat Leon. On the other hand, proof that you can do well with touch if it is well thought out and assisted by the necessary physical buttons, the operations took 13.7 seconds in the new Volvo C40 Recharge.

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Red card for MG Marvel R

Still, Tesla can really be a bad influence when brands try to copy it to offer their customers a similar experience, which is becoming very common in electric vehicles, where the big screen gives the futuristic image that we expect in this type cars. In the techno BMW iX itself, the test time was 30 seconds.

If we see a logical one-upmanship among luxury companies, for example Mercedes Hyperscreen, the phenomenon also affects more accessible brands. In its new electric “top of the range”, Marvel R, MG has installed an XXL vertical screen similar to the old Model S. With this model, the operations of the Vi Bilägare test took 44.9 seconds! Additionally, the layout of the screen requires the driver to tilt their head sharply to see a function that would be at the bottom. Such ergonomics pose a real danger to the driver, this time spent searching is time not looking at the road.

Brands shouldn’t hold back when it comes to touch, which has both design and cost benefits. But they need to think carefully about the use of the menus. To improve road safety, it is also necessary to have physical control, quick access, the essential functions.

Train before hitting the road

Because on this point too, Tesla can be a bad example to follow. If the Model 3 performs quite well in the end compared to other models in the Swedish evaluation, the test focused on common operations where touch becomes almost automatic. But in the little Tesla, the hood is pushed very far, as even the change in the speed of the wipers requires you to go through the screen. The American was thus caught in another test carried out by the Swiss organization TCS.

It also assessed the risk of inattention when using functions related to headlights, wipers, climate control and GPS. The Model 3 had an overall score of 34% compared to 72% for another 3, Mazda’s. If the Model 3 had good marks for the navigation part, it had a very poor result for lights and wipers. Fun fact: Even with a physical button, the Model 3 crashed. None of the testers (they did not know the model) found the warning function, this was located at the level of the ceiling lamp with a control embedded in the mass.

Obviously, everything works when a vehicle has been properly presented to its future driver. Voice control is also a good way to keep your hands on the wheel. And for the functions that go through the screen, after a period of adaptation, many drivers will be comfortable and will find the thing obvious.

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