LCD instrument panels are nothing new. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid used a partial LCD display, as does the current Ford Explorer. Jaguar’s latest XJ has replaced the analog instruments with a high-resolution LCD display (shown above), and fellow Tata Motors subsidiary Land Rover is using LCD instrumentation in the latest Range Rover.
If you’re a purist, chances are you find the video-game-like display an affront to decency; after all, Jaguars are traditional automobiles, and replacing the conventional dial-type gauges with an LCD screen is akin to replacing the wool floor mats with plastic ones. Both may prove more functional or even more durable, but aesthetically, purists will argue, something is lost.
BMW is aware of this and is proceeding with caution on the development of their LCD displays, which offer some significant advantages over their analog counterparts. LCD displays can be reconfigured to show different data in distinct driving modes. In Sport mode, for example, a large tachometer could be prominently displayed in the center of the cluster, flanked by a smaller speedometer, oil pressure gauge and coolant temperature gauge. In “Economy” mode, the tachometer may disappear entirely, replaced by a real-time fuel-consumption gauge and a driving “coach” to maximize fuel efficiency.
Autoblog reports that BMW will likely use LCD instrumentation on 5-Series and 7-Series cars within the next two years. Like the Ford Explorer, customers will have some ability to customize their instrument display, but BMW insists their focus is on ease of use and readability.
Love them or hate them, it’s unlikely that LCD instrument displays will disappear from the market anytime soon.