Automobiles, and the automotive industry itself, have a lot of features that survive as vestiges of earlier technological times, and may no longer serve any real purpose. Tesla has eliminated a few of these (model years, free press trips) and tried hard to eliminate others (rear-view mirrors, independent dealerships).
With the advent of the Model 3, it appears that the services of the “instrument cluster” – a display above the steering wheel that typically includes the speedometer, gas gauge and other odds and ends – are no longer needed.
Videos of press rides at the recent Model 3 unveiling reveal that the historic new EV has no separate instrument cluster. Speed and other pertinent data are displayed on the car’s center-mounted 15-inch touchscreen (supplied by LG).
Of course, most cars replaced mechanical dials with digital readouts years ago, and things like engine-temperature and oil-pressure gauges are gradually disappearing. However, automakers still seem to believe that the speedometer belongs on its own separate screen. Like many current cars, the Model S has an LCD display above the steering wheel in addition to the larger multi-function screen to the driver’s right.
So, the only real issue with the new order seems to be the location of the speedometer. Some argue that it’s safer to have it directly in front of the driver, rather than off to the right (but, amazingly, there doesn’t seem to be any government regulation that requires this).
Two displays in Model S
Others counter that advancing technology is gradually making it less important to keep track of a vehicle’s exact speed. A car equipped with the latest autonomy features knows the speed limit for the road it’s driving on, and can warn the driver (or even apply the brakes itself) if this limit is exceeded.
Be that as it may, instrument-cluster aficionados (there must be some) will probably have to face the eventual demise of their darling dials. While there’s no guarantee that the cluster won’t reappear on the production version of the 3 (as the rear-view mirror did on the X), if Tesla does succeed in killing it off, given the cost savings, other automakers are likely to follow.
@BValvsRacing It will make sense after part 2 of the Model 3 unveil
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2016
Sources: Tesla, Electrek