QOTD: Are Futuristic Interiors Hurting EV Adoption?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

I just turned in an Audi Q4 loaner, and its interior tech was a bit -- futuristic. From its ability to turn off the radio only when your butt left the seat after parking to its shifter to its oddly-shaped steering wheel, the car's cabin is meant to give off an impression of being tomorrow's future today.

Given that Chris praised the Chevrolet Bolt yesterday for having a cabin that was refreshingly familiar, I have to wonder -- are automakers messing up by giving EVs crazy futuristic cabins?

Yes, yes, there are obviously greater challenges to EV adoption -- cost, infrastructure, et cetera. But as I test more and more EVs, I tend to find that the ones that have interiors that don't try to re-invent the wheel seem to get higher marks from myself and other car reviewers.

It also seems like it would be easier to sell the average consumer on EVs if they didn't have to worry about a steep learning curve when it comes to using the functions in their vehicle. I saw on the tweet machine yesterday that some consumers are still googling if it's safe to run EVs through a car wash (it is). So maybe some familiarity with the inside will help folks as they learn to adapt to EV life?

Sound off below.

[Image: Audi]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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5 of 60 comments
  • BEPLA BEPLA on Jan 12, 2023

    Complexity = Higher Cost = Less Demand.

    EV powertrains are generally cheaper to produce than ICEs due to their lack of mechanical complexity and uniform battery/motors - but they're not sold for less. I believe the extra complexity of electric door handles, wall-to wall telescreens, glass roofs and frequently bizarre over-styling (or under-styling in the case of Tesla) is meant to justify/disguise the fact that you're paying more for an EV when we should actually be paying less.

    Once someone eliminates the tacked-on complexity and produces an easy & fun to operate EV with simple, attractive styling (something like the i Vision, but without the silly color-changing paint and ridiculous Metaverse interior displays) - that manufacturer will be able to offer them at lower cost and will make a fortune off them.

    • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Jan 12, 2023

      If/when batteries can be made cheaply, an electric car should be no more expensive than a kitchen appliance set. Yes, airbags, anti-lock brakes, and high strength steel with crumple zones cost some money, but eliminating billion dollar programs for engines and transmissions should lower costs.

  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Jan 12, 2023

    Hybrids initially had this same problem on the outside. Somehow the auto industry thought that anyone that wanted a fuel-efficient vehicle also wanted a weird looking vehicle.

    Tesla succeeded, in part, because their cars looked like....cars.

    I don't want a weird looking car inside or out. These try hard designs feel like that girl in our past that tried too hard to be interesting and controversial. It's fatiguing.

  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Jan 13, 2023

    I've been shopping for an AWD crossover for several months now. many brands and models have been considered and eliminated, for various personal reasons. Volvo is one of the three brands that I haven't reached a hard "no" on, but I can't see the way to "yes" because of their current dash design. There's just two defroster buttons, which that unfortunate Pikes Peak race driver could have used on his fogged-up Tesla last year. There's a hazard flasher button, and an other I can't recall. Nothing else but a Home button for the large central dash screen, which controls everything else. There also are voice control options and steering wheel buttons, but why, for the price of my first house, can't I just have real buttons and dials that always do the same thing and sit in the same place?

    Credit is due to Volvo for integrating the screen into the dash surface, instead of just tossing a tablet atop it. You can turn off the screen with the home button, which is how I'd use it. But I'd miss those buttons always. I can accept the car of tomorrow, if I have to, but I think I'll wait and buy it tomorrow.

  • Stuart de Baker Stuart de Baker on Jan 25, 2023

    I find the interiors (and exteriors!) of Teslas to be plug ugly. That doesn't seem to keep people from buying them. Of course they do have the major advantage over other EVs of a much better network of charging stations.