Renault’s large, vertically mounted touchscreen on its new Espace large minivan seems like a smart move as connectivity increasingly becomes a key selling point for new vehicles.
The Espace’s 8.7-inch touchscreen for controlling infotainment and driving aids has a similar layout to the signature 17-inch display on the Tesla Model S sedan.
The Espace touchscreen’s portrait mode, a first in its segment, makes operating the device similar to using a smartphone or tablet, Renault says.
IHS Automotive analyst Mark Boyadjis said Tesla and Renault have realized that the Apple iPad and other tablets are increasingly popular in the consumer electronics market and that customers want them in their cars too.
“When the first Tesla car launched, automakers thought the tablet user interface hadn’t been developed well enough for use in a vehicle. Tesla created an entertainment system that mimics a lot of the form factors, usability and user experience that you would see in a tablet.”
Volvo and Porsche are now following Tesla. The new Volvo XC90 and the Porsche 918 offer portrait-mode displays. Toyota and Qoros will offer the design as well, Boyadjis said.
As a way to cut costs, some carmakers are trying to offer a portrait-like screen interface by using two smaller landscape displays. Examples include the Infiniti Q50 and the Honda Acura RLX.
Tesla’s influence will trickle down into the majority of carmakers’ infotainment systems, including Audi, BMW and Mercedes. “This is a definite design trend that Tesla started,” Boyadjis said.
The success of the Espace, which went on sale in Europe in April, is crucial for Renault as it seeks to improve profitability by selling higher-margin vehicles. The minivan launches the renewal of the automaker’s upper range. The Espace will be followed by replacements for the Laguna/Latitude sedans and the Koleos SUV.