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Friday, January 21, 2022

Automotive trends that need to die in 2022

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Electrification, stock shortages, bigger screens – these are just some of the automotive trends we’ve seen in recent times.

But do all of them have a place in the current landscape? Some do, and some don’t.

Here, the CarExpert team discusses the trends we’d like to see laid to rest in 2022. Let us know what your pet peeves are in the comments!

James Wong

Even though it’s not really in anyone’s control right now, the continued upward push of new vehicle prices and limited stock levels in both the new and used car markets is a really frustrating trend we’ve seen a lot of this year.

It’s crazy to me that the only Honda Civic you can get for MY22 is nearly $50,000 on the road, and that performance versions of the Mk8 VW Golf are some $10,000-$15,000 up on the Mk7.5 versions from a couple of years ago.

Same goes for used cars. I remember seeing a 5-6 year-old Toyota Yaris at $5000 above the drive-away pricing when new sitting on a dealer lot when I was helping my sister look for her first car. Insane.

Hopefully as the semiconductor shortage subsides, and supply chain interruptions, consumers will be better served in 2022.

Alborz Fallah

I want to stop seeing car company after car company tell us when they will stop making the internal-combustion engine.

I get it, we’re all going electric – but don’t rub it our face every week.

Derek Fung

I wrote about it around the time this site was birthed (Touchscreens are perfect on a phone, less so in the car) and it’s still true today: Touchscreens are great, but in moderation. And capacitive touch buttons are the answer to the question no-one asked.

Commonly-used features (volume, audio, indicators, wipers, climate control, windows) should all have physical knobs, switches and buttons. After a period of familiarisation, no-one should have to look away from the road to use any of those items.

I’d rather not test out the safety kit while trying to adjust to temperature.

Scott Collie

I love a glossy touchscreen as much as the next guy, but not at the cost of functionality.

Carmakers are killing off proper climate controls in favour of easier-to-manufacture screens might allow designers to live out their minimalist fantasies (and save a penny or two in the process), but they represent a big step backwards for usability.

The new Volkswagen Golf is a prime example. It looks more modern than the Mk7.5 inside, but it’s worse to use day-to-day. That’s not how things are meant to work.

Jack Quick

Using touch-sensitive steering-wheel buttons is an absolute nightmare.

I had a short drive of a Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R-Line a few months ago and using the steering wheel buttons to set cruise control and change the radio volume was quite scary!

I do know that with time I’d soon become acquainted with the location and pressure required to use the buttons, but it wasn’t instantly user-friendly.

During my short drive I couldn’t help but think of all of the people who’d be upgrading from Mk6, Mk7 or even Mk7.5 Golfs to this Mk8 generation and being disappointed with the smudgy piano-black finish of these buttons.

Can we please leave these types of buttons in 2021? Just give me proper buttons or scroll wheels, that’s all I ask.

Paul Maric

Wired smartphone mirroring – how is it possible the more you spend with a Hyundai, for example, the less you get.

For some reason wireless smartphone mirroring is impossible for some manufacturers to implement with some infotainment systems and it’s beyond me why it doesn’t work.

I want to be able to get in, have smartphone mirroring load and then hit the road. This also needs to be paired with a wireless phone charger to make proper sense, but maybe I’m asking for too much…

William Stopford

I have a few bêtes noires. One of them is smudge and scratch-prone piano black trim, which I ranted about recently. The other is the prevalence of silver, white and black cars with black interiors, though that’s somewhat of a chicken-or-egg scenario – do people only buy them because that’s all manufacturers produce, or is it the other way around?

Those are aesthetic grievances, however. What is of greater concern is the trend towards removing physical buttons and knobs, particularly for HVAC systems, and either installing touch-capacitive switchgear or relegating it to the touchscreen.

We saw American companies like Ford and GM roll out touch-capacitive switchgear in the US around a decade ago and eventually get rid of it because customers complained.

How long until we see this happen with the likes of Volkswagen and Hyundai, who are rolling out switchgear that’s even less useable as it often lacks haptic feedback? Or are we just desensitised to it now?

Companies love to brag about their increasing use of voice prompt activation for in-car functions, but when even Siri or Google Assistant can completely misunderstand us on occasion, what hope is there for an OEM system?

At least steering wheels can house media controls, but when was the last time a steering wheel housed climate controls? And don’t get me started on companies that have started putting touch-capacitive controls on steering wheels!

Somehow worse is when companies force you to use the touchscreen to change your climate settings. MG is a particularly egregious offender. It’s not even remotely intuitive, and it’s just plain distracting.

Anthony Crawford

The trend towards the complete removal of ‘hard’ buttons in favour of hidden haptic touch pads is annoying and often frustrating.

Simple things like altering the air temperature or changing the audio volume becomes confusing when it requires you to sift through various menus instead of just turning a dial or knob. Volume and air-con dials need to be there in a car for sheer sake of convenience and intuitiveness.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the dual-screen cockpits that brands like Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover and so many others have adopted for their configurability and clarity, but for god’s sake, leave the volume and air-con dials alone.

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