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After complaints, Volkswagen will ditch capacitive controls on the steering wheel

After complaints, Volkswagen will ditch capacitive controls on the steering wheel

Said offensive wheel.
zoom in / Said offensive wheel.

Volkswagen

Sometimes it can feel like the arc of progress only moves in one direction and that our lives are always going downhill. As automakers embrace the technology—driven by customers’ begging to see smartphone-like features in their cars—they’ve thrown a few bells and whistles at us, like bare-bones touchscreen interfaces or insecure connected cars. That’s why it’s refreshing to see an OEM admit they’ve done something wrong.

In this case, I’m talking about the Volkswagen Group and its not-so-large multifunction steering wheel. The first Mk. 8 Golf, but also seen in the new electric ID.4 and id. Buzz, VW kept essentially the same control design for the new wheel. But instead of having discrete buttons for each of these functions (left adaptive control on the left speaker, media playback on the right speaker), the controls are now capacitive touchpads with some haptic feedback.

now, multifunction steering wheels These are good things in the 21st century, as they allow you to control media playback or even the entire infotainment system without taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. And in a car that uses a touchscreen infotainment system, that’s a huge benefit.

The problem is that the new controls aren’t as good as actual buttons: it’s all too easy to activate a control you didn’t want if you’re turning the wheel and part of your hand touches it in the wrong place.

Also, it’s not VW’s only problem; BMW and Mercedes have moved to capacitive multi-touch steering wheels for their new electric vehicles, for example. iX or EQS. And as with VW, neither new wheel is as pleasant to use as the ones they replace.

But VW will reject the new design. Thomas Schäfer, CEO of VW Passenger Cars, Advertised on LinkedIn that, following customer feedback—presumably almost entirely negative—VW will bring back the old design with real buttons.

Now that’s real progress.

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