The Economics of the Automotive Touchscreen

By Deane Barker on February 18, 2012

Saturday Drive: 2012 Fisker Karma: This is from an article about the Fisker Karma, which is snazzy-looking electric car.  It explains the economics behind using a touchscreen in the dashboard as a control device.  Apparently, it’s not just futuristic, it’s cheaper.

Using a screen like this serves an economical function for Fisker though. Designing and manufacturing the switchgear one might expect in a traditional car costs several piles of money (that’s the scientific term). When done on the scale of major automakers that can use similar components throughout their vehicle lineup, the cost is reduced.

When you’re Fisker, that potential cost can be a dealbreaker. Using a screen requires minimal engineering and manufacturing. Fisker can also update the system (which it says it plans to do) throughout the lifespan of the Karma without major retooling or cost.

I never considered how much all those switches and dials must cost a carmaker.