Lucid Hears Customers: Keep Physical Buttons?

Lucid: Logical Addition of Physical Controls in Cars.

As automakers steer their offerings towards a modernized vector, a common detail appears to be ubiquitous: touchscreens. Every new vehicle, including Lucid Gravity’s debut SUV, feature at least one , the focal point of which is a huge 34-inch OLED touchscreen planted in front of the driver, joined by another erected in the dash. To the surprise of many, however, the car packs a few physical buttons as well.

At the heart of the Gravity sits the centrally mounted “Pilot Panel” touchscreen. But beneath this digital display lies seven physical controls: two for fan speed, two for temperature, a scroll wheel for volume, and two buttons that can be programmed to do whatever you want.

As little as seven buttons may appear, in this era of manufacturers implementing puzzling capacitive sliders to even regulate volume, it is a major victory for customers who value deliberate configuration and comfort.

“We are trending towards more hardware controls, in response to the feedback we have been receiving,” David Flynt, Head of UX, declared to Motor1 during a recent event hosted by the company in New York on Friday.

In 2021, the company released its inaugural vehicle, the Air sedan. It contains four switches for temperature regulation and a rotating selector for sound control, not to mention various knobs placed on the steering wheel.

“We’ve heard people ask, ‘Why don’t you have a physical glove box button in Air?'” Flynt adds. “The answer is that we don’t believe it’s necessary for the experience we’re trying to create. Instead, we have an intuitive, digital interface that allows you to access and control your car’s settings quickly and easily.”

Lucid responded to the comments made, ultimately resulting in the integration of the two key buttons cited. The one on the right-side of the vehicle usually comes standard with it being associated with the Glovebox entry system.

The control center of the Gravity has been overhauled. Instead of having buttons and rolling wheels like on the Air, directional pads are integrated onto each side. These assist in navigating the touchscreens without requiring a driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel.

“It’s all about finding balance for us,” Flynt states. “We understand that everyone has different needs and wants, and we strive to meet those in a way that is beneficial for all of us.” He goes on to explain that they take into account the various interests of their customers, employees, and other stakeholders when making decisions. “We want to make sure that everyone is getting something out of this relationship,” Flynt adds. “That’s why it’s so important to us to find that balance.”

Lucid isn’t the sole producer that is bucking the trend of removing buttons; Volkswagen divulged last year their strategy to reinstall physical buttons on the steering wheels, understanding that customers had a distaste for the touch-sensitive controls. Ultra- high-end brands such as Bugatti and Pagani have ignored the touchscreen development altogether, prioritizing the provision of premium manual knobs and buttons rather.

For car makers which remain devoted to touchscreens and capacitive buttons, we propose taking a cue from Lucid’s strategy. Although such technologies likely appear modern and futuristic, they can be even more cumbersome (and in some situations, potentially hazardous) when operating an automobile.

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