Hyundai pushes back on buttons, says its cars will keep them

·1 min read

Control button lovers, rest easy: Hyundai has promised to keep physical “hard” buttons in cars, at least for the near future.

While touchscreen controls have emerged as the trendy way to adjust settings in most modern vehicles, Sang Yup Lee, Hyundai's head of design, insists that the decision to “save the switch” is also a safety issue.

“We have used the physical buttons quite significantly the last few years,” he said at the recent showing of the new Kona. “For me, the safety-related buttons have to be a hard key.”

If and when autonomous driving becomes the norm, Lee said he was somewhat circumspect about in the button prospects, he told CarsGuide. “We will continue to have [physical dials],” he said. “When it comes to Level 4 autonomous driving, then we’ll have everything soft key, but until then, as I said, when it comes to driving, it’s safest to have your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

The form-versus-function issue is not new. Touchscreens often require users to scroll through menus, actions that can require drivers to shift attention from the road to the screen, creating a distraction. Other factors emerge as well: Buttons have familiarity, especially for older drivers who grew up with them. And going forward, eliminating buttons likely will be a cost issue for car makers as screens dominate cockpit-interior fashion.

There’s also the fun and sensory satisfaction of flipping a switch. Alas, the switch flip may become a victim of high tech in years to come.




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