Automakers have reacted to Tesla’s tablet-based infotainment design. Now even used vehicle owners are finding a way to have a Tesla-like experience in their vehicles as well.
When Tesla first launched its first car it used a Lotus chassis. Tesla’s second vehicle mirrored an Aston Martin body design to some eyes. However, nobody had ever seen an infotainment display quite like what Tesla launched in its Model S, X, and 3. Of all Tesla’s many contributions to industry trends, its tablet-based center console may perhaps be its most enduring.
Automakers have now placed a Tesla-like tablet into trucks like the Ram 1500.
And also affordable sedans like the sub-$30K Subaru Legacy.
And, of course in new EV offerings like the Mustang Mach-E, which is from our standpoint a straight-up homage to Tesla’s entire controls package.
Large displays like Tesla’s offer a superior view of a route one is planning (hopefully while parked). They can also incorporate more information without sacrificing clarity, resolution, or size of the information viewed. The Subaru Legacy, for example, shows the driver a full Google map view from Android Auto with outstanding resolution, while also providing audio and other information at the same time. No toggling back and forth is needed.
It seems as if almost every new vehicle test has a bigger screen with more information available through it, rather than via buttons. We have mixed feelings about this. Audi and Porsche seem to be trending towards a physical button-less experience and we are not sure we feel it is the right move. Using one’s hands to adjust things like a heated seat (thumbwheel) or the fan speed (knob) or to actuate AC (button) is easy to do while still looking only at the road.
Although new vehicles copying Tesla’s themes is to be expected, we were surprised to find that many used vehicle owners are now modifying their rides to have a huge tablet screen. The first to catch our eye was Sloan Hawthorn’s tablet mounted in a Prius. We spotted his setup at the Prius Owners’ Club on Facebook. Hawthorn used a kit found at Amazon.com to mount his tablet as shown.
Other owners posted similar flush-mounted tablet devices like Paul Acsay’s above. Acsay used a $10 magnetic tablet holder and he reports that it works perfectly.
For many, a vehicle is now an extension of their smart device. Drivers want to have the same operating system and overall experience they are familiar with in their car. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were reactions to this consumer preference, but we think were imagined as a way for the public to integrate their phone apps with the vehicle. Clearly, some buyers would prefer to just mount their favorite device right onto the car. Watch for automakers to do their best to meet the needs of this group of device-savvy drivers who now make up a meaningful segment of the buying public.