Tesla activates the tactile gearshift: why it seems to us a terrible idea
In the redesign of the Tesla Model S and Model X that took place this year there was a remarkable element that disappeared from the car: the company decided eliminate the buttons that used to select the gears of the automatic transmission if we wanted to control them ourselves.
Now the firm has decided to integrate that option, but it has done so through the touch screen of these vehicles. In her we will have to slide our finger on one of the sides, an idea that seems terrible to us and that puts the safety of those who are in that car (and the rest of the drivers who are nearby) at risk.
What a mania with so much touch interface
Like other vehicles with automatic transmission, the driver does not have to do anything in these Tesla to change gear: the car detects the best moment to do it efficiently, but there are situations in which the drivers of these cars want to take control of the change to move to a mode somewhat more similar to the manual gearbox that, for example, traditionally dominates the car market in Spain.
— Michael Hsu (@hsumacher) March 24, 2021
Now Tesla has introduced the possibility of controlling the automatic gearshift with its traditional gears (PRND, for Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive), but instead of doing it with a gear lever like other cars do or with buttons on a remote. located next to the steering wheel as they themselves offered until now, in Tesla have decided to implement a touch system which is controlled from the central panel.
The tweet from Michael Hsu, who has had access to test this feature, is terrifying. There you can see how the gearshift is controlled sliding your finger up or down on the car icon that appears on the left side, and that implementation does not seem to make it entirely clear in which march we are at each moment or towards which we are changing.
It is true that we do not have to use that system, and in fact Elon Musk himself defined it as a backup system in case the normal system does not work well or simply does not convince us in a certain scenario. Still we don’t understand the obsession with removing a basic control like this in its traditional format to turn it into a tactile gesture.
We have discussed it on several occasions: many are the manufacturers obsessed with putting more and more touchscreens in the car dashboard, and in many cases that makes traditional physical controls with levers, buttons and switches that we could use “blindly” disappear to become an icon that we have to look first to locate, and then look to use.
After you drive without using a PRND stalk/stick for a few days, it gets very annoying to go back & use a shifter!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021
Any such touch control carries a risk: the driver takes his eyes off the road to put it on a screen, and that poses a threat to the safety of those who are in that car, but also to those who are in cars that circulate around it.
The tendency seems clear among many manufacturers, but others like Mazda fortunately they seem to be resisting. Eliminating touchscreens prevents distractions and accidents, but it seems that car manufacturers (and industry regulators) don’t quite see the risk of a visually great trend but that in practice it is a real threat for the lives of millions of drivers.