Legacy Automakers Reveal Tesla User Interface Look-Alikes At CES

Tesla User Interface

FEB 4 2018 BY EVANNEX 16

Tesla User Interface

Dodge Ram trucks shown at CES have a center-stack touchscreen that looks eerily similar to a Tesla User Interface (Image: Business Insider via Ram)


One of Tesla’s many innovations has been to modernize the automobile user interface, and its putative rivals have been watching closely. Most vehicle UIs are (to be charitable) still a decade behind the technology that consumers are used to using on their tablets and phones, but at the recent CES, there were all kinds of improvements in interface technology on display.

The modern vehicle interface is being asked to do much more, as always-on mobile connections and all kinds of internal sensors proliferate. The rise of autonomous capabilities will drive another wave of change in user interface design, as the UI evolves from a way for humans to control cars, into a way to keep them entertained.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.

Mashable’s Pete Pachal tried out the latest UI innovations at CES, from new types of touchscreens to voice interaction and even gesture control. He tested a lot of slick new gadgets, but found that (as is often the case at forward-looking trade shows), many of the “dashboards of the future” failed to deliver a very good overall experience.

Above: At CES, automotive suppliers like Samsung were showing their vision for what a car’s future user interface might look like (Youtube: Samsung Mobile UK)

The Tesla User Interface has always ahead of its time, but Pete found that the legacy automakers are catching up, replacing latency-plagued resistive screens with more responsive capacitive multitouch screens like the ones we’ve come to expect on our phones and pads.

He had high praise for the screen on the 2018 Mercedes A-Class – a 10-inch touchscreen with large icons, highly responsive and very customizable. Following the trend set by Tesla, the new A-Class has dispensed with most physical buttons. Not all drivers are a fan of this trend, but whether that’s mainly a result of unfamiliarity remains to be seen.

Tesla User Interface

Dashboard of new Mercedes A-Class (Image: Mashable via Mercedes Benz)

The big daddy of digital dashboards is the 49-inch display on an electric SUV concept car from German/Chinese startup Byton. This massive screen stretches across the entire dashboard and can be controlled by gesturing with your hands. An 8-inch touchscreen in the center of the steering wheel is used to control vehicle functions. Pachal and other reviewers found the whole idea of gesture control in a vehicle dangerous – however, it isn’t designed to be used while the car is in motion.

Of course, once you start getting rid of the buttons, the logical endpoint is voice control, and automakers are working hard to improve their capabilities in this area. The new Toyota vehicles use voice-recognition technology from a company called Voicebox. Panasonic announced plans to incorporate both Alexa and Google Assistant into its infotainment systems, which it supplies to a number of carmakers.

Tesla User Interface

Chinese EV startup, Byton, shows a massive 49-inch display in their concept car at CES, in an attempt to top the Tesla User Interface (Source: Mashable via Byton)

Pachal’s favorite voice assistant was the one in the new Mercedes A-Class, which he found “great at parsing natural language and inferring intent,” although it had a hard time understanding certain words.

Of course, Tesla vehicles have featured voice commands for their navigation and infotainment systems for years, and Elon Musk recently said that eventually, drivers will be able to control “pretty much anything” on Model 3 with the voice. Advances in AI should someday enable a voice-controlled assistant to know us as well as a trusted servant. But at what point does our control of the car begin to shift to its control of us?


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Mashable

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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16 Comments on "Legacy Automakers Reveal Tesla User Interface Look-Alikes At CES"

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Sorry this does not look anything like the Tesla, to many buttons, to messy

These interfaces, for the most part, look superior to Tesla’s. I want them.

Tesla has no concept of automotive interface. They force it on those wanting an electric luxury car.

And yet, it is the best going so far.

LOL that Dodge 😀 There are like 58479769724659274659274569724659274652 buttons 😀

i see a pattern in your random number typing. LOL

Yup. They have tried to imitate the “big screen” of a Tesla car, without imitating the clean, clutter-free design that Tesla uses.

Like BlackBerry’s failed attempt to imitate the iPhone.

Another Euro point of view

IMO there must be a right balance between buttons and screen. As long as drivers will need to pay attention to the road in front of them buttons & levers will be the most efficient command type for primary functions such as wipers, lights, defogging and even radio or cabin temp. adjustment. The braille writing system is based on that principle for a reason after all. Screen can very well be used for other less important functions. Now a forest of buttons like in some older Audi’s is tiring and messy so some not too invasive screen(s) are welcome.

I agree to a point. I think core driving functions (lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, cruise control, etc.) should be on stalks attached to the steering wheel or buttons on the steering wheel. All other functions can be on a screen similar to what Tesla does. But I also agree with the article that voice control is the ideal way to interact with that screen. I think it should also accept touchscreen input, but when driving, voice control would allow for the easiest and least distracting means of usability.

Another Euro point of view

Yes sure, if it works well then voice control could be a great addition.

Evannex Kool Aide: “Tesla vehicles have featured voice commands for their navigation and infotainment systems for years”.

They do phone, “find X” nav, and net-streamed music (assuming no ‘loading error’). Not all that much, really.

People now think the budget Tesla will get updates like voice activated cruise-adjustment. Not likely. That adjustment was deliberately moved over to the touch-screen. Another “you won’t miss it” fix… that wasn’t broken. I mean, they already had the stalk. They saved money on a stalk?? Or wait, maybe it was the cluttered steering column? So much better to look away, and behold that touch-screen.

There’s a way to integrate touch-screens, I agree. But not for climate, sunroof, seat memory, audio (the non-internet kind), cruise, wipers, and other immediately accessed common functions. Maybe internet, the car’s manual, or driver assistance settings. Yes, those would work well.

Musk needs to stop screwing around.


I’m not a fan of any of these. And to be honest, I think Tesla’s design is somewhat lacking in tactile controls. Toyota has tried to copy Tesla with their large touch screen in the Prius Prime, but most of the reviews say it is a crappy interface. I haven’t tried it myself.

“Pachal and other reviewers found the whole idea of gesture control in a vehicle dangerous – however, it isn’t designed to be used while the car is in motion.” Seems like a silly thing to worry about. So long as gesture control doesn’t control anything safety-critical, it’s definitely superior to voice control. Voice control is too subject to outside interference, for example from music inside the car or passengers talking. Voice control also doesn’t work well for everyone; how well it works depends on the quality of an individual’s voice. For example, mens’ voices are richer in harmonics, so easier for the voice control interface to pick up on than womens’ voices. Gesture control is already being used in the BMW 7-Series, as shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX2x45mNI40 “But at what point does our control of the car begin to shift to its control of us?” Again, that seems like a silly question. We already have to learn how to drive a car and operate the controls, so to that extent the car is already “controlling” us by forcing us to take certain actions to control it. But that’s only “controlling” us if you choose to look at it that… Read more »

Tesla needs to have a few of the simple things in buttons and or knobs, their screen is just a bit distracting. I’d especially like a stop/start button. When I’m washing my car, or getting my dogs into the car I don’t need everything strarting up, and shutting down several times as each door is opened and closed. You can open and close a Tesla ten times, and it will start and stop ten times. I’d also like a simple central locking button, I powered off my Tesla once while waiting for a family member who wanted to run into a store. Since the central locking button was on the screen, I had to wait for my Model X to boot up before I could unlock the car again.

To say that MB A-class interior looks similar to Tesla is like saying that oranges and apples are similar. MB keeps the touch pad with some shortcut buttons and haz completely different philosophy and layout. And thankfully they kept physical button to operate climate control.