Bumped into Audi’s chief designer Stefan Sielaff the other day. As you do.
Anyway Herr Sielaff is an incredibly interesting chap, especially when it comes to assessing how our cars are going to change in the future.
He’s especially passionate about car interiors. Not that surprising when you consider his employer perhaps, but he reckons that cabins are going to change, largely because of what current and future technology allows.
Stefan revealed that he and his team are even beginning to wonder whether cars need a light switch anymore. Automatic lights are now so good and so commonplace that the rotary dial or wand controls are probably items that we could dispense with.
The bigger picture though is one where drivers have far more information in their eyeline, either through head up displays or far more complex binnacle information.
That means the traditional displays for heating, entertainment and all other functions currently located in the centre of the dash could easily be dispensed with - freeing up the dash to be simpler, more restrained and much lighter.
Sielaff has a worry though. And that’s whether we’ll take to such a radical departure from what has gone before. Despite increasing complexities, the dashboard as we know it has been similar for decades. And it’s going to take a big leap and lots of customer testing before a mainstream maker like Audi is prepared to take such a risk. After all, just digital speedo readouts are routinely rejected by customers.
Or is there now such complexity and functionality needed that a rethink like Audi’s design department is proposing is necessary to avoid overload? Interesting to see if it ever makes production.