You next Hyundai could have more touchscreens.
When automakers reveal futuristic concepts cars, they usually debut with radical new interiors that will never see the light of day. These concept interiors typically feature loads of screens, which would be expensive to produce and distracting to use while driving. Since 2015, Hyundai has been working on four significant project phases for the development of its future cockpit designs. During these phases, Hyundai evaluated how many buttons are found on its interiors as well as the interiors of its competitors. This year, the Korean automaker is showing off its new Virtual Cockpit Study, which replaces buttons on the steering wheel with two touchpads.
Although the design is still an early concept, Hyundai decided to showcase it on its i30 (the European version of the Elantra hatchback). "We chose the i30 to demonstrate that innovations are not limited to higher-segment vehicles," said Regina Kaiser, Human Machine Interface Senior Engineer at Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center. "Hyundai intends to prove that innovations need to be achievable for a broad customer base. We are continuously working on new technologies that make our cars perfectly intuitive and user-friendly. The screens are large, configurable with up to five 'buttons' per display, and provide haptic feedback for ease of use."
The idea seems like it could work but we would like to see how it functions in practice. Touchscreens lack the tactility of physical buttons, which could make them distracting to use while driving. We feel the success of this concept boils down to how well Hyundai can calibrate the haptic feedback to make the screens feel like actual buttons. Hyundai openly admits it still has improvements to make before such an idea becomes production ready but we think showing off this new interior in a normal production car with a manual transmission shows that the concept isn't too forward thinking.