Making bigger, fancier in-vehicle displays better

The current king of the road in screen size is the Porsche Taycan electric sport sedan, whose four screens offer a total of 47 inches of display area. One curved screen houses the instrument panel behind the steering wheel. Two more — one for the driver, the other for the passenger — are in the center of the dash. The fourth screen, positioned just ahead of where the shifter would be in a regular vehicle, is used to operate the heating and cooling.

The Taycan’s time at the top may be in jeopardy. A new generation of electric vehicles from startup automakers have embraced big screens. If the Byton M-Byte makes production, it would be difficult for another automaker to out-inch the 48-inch screen that runs from pillar to pillar in the four-door crossover. The screen is the entire top of the dash, and there’s a second screen in the front of the steering wheel. Also, Sony showed a concept car, the Vision S, at last year’s CES technology expo in Las Vegas with a segmented screen that runs from pillar to pillar.

While pillar-to-pillar screens might look cool, that doesn’t necessarily make them practical.

Cadillac, Lincoln and Land Rover have worked with Territory Studio of San Francisco to help define the look and functionality of their screens. Territory is best known for its work in helping develop graphics for movies and video games. Marti Romances, the company’s co-founder and creative director, says no matter how big the screen gets, the content still must be within the driver’s peripheral vision.

Fisher, of Consumer Reports, says Tesla hasn’t always done a great job of making its screens easy to use. “The Tesla Model 3 absorbs almost the whole car into the screen,” he said. “But on the Model X and S, there were hard controls for adjusting the mirrors and the air conditioning vents and seat controls. Tesla has actually gotten worse because they have baked so much into the screen.”

To open the glove box or change the direction of the airflow in a Tesla Model 3 or Model X, the driver has to do it from the screen. Tesla did not respond to an email from Automotive News for comment.

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