As carmakers point their products towards the future, one feature seems constant: touchscreens. Virtually every new car has at least one, including the new Lucid Gravity. The company's first-ever SUV has a massive 34-inch OLED touchscreen in front of the driver, and another screen mounted in the dash. But unlike some competitors, it has a handful of physical buttons, too.
Underneath the centrally mounted "Pilot Panel" touchscreen of the Gravity sit seven physical controls: two for fan speed, two for temperature, one scroll wheel for volume, and two blank buttons that can be assigned to whatever function you desire.
Seven buttons might not seem like much, but in a world where even volume controls are, for some manufacturers, controlled by infuriatingly unintuitive capacitive sliders, it's a big win for people who appreciate logical design and ease-of-use.
"We're going towards more hardware controls than away from them because of the feedback that we're hearing," Head of UX David Flynt told Motor1 during an event held by the manufacturer in New York on Friday.
The company launched its first vehicle, the Air sedan, in 2021. It comes with four buttons for climate control and a scroll wheel for volume, as well as a handful of buttons on the steering wheel.
"In Air we don't have a physical glove box button, and we've heard people say why don't you have [this]?" Flynt adds.
Lucid took that criticism to heart, leading to the addition of those two hot key buttons mentioned earlier. The right-side hot key is matched to the glove box opening mechanism as standard.
The Gravity's steering wheel has also been reworked. In place of the buttons and scroll wheels on the Air, there are directional pads on either side. They're used to navigate through the car's touchscreens without having to take your hands off the wheel.
"For us, it's [about] balance," Flynt says.
Lucid isn't the only manufacturer adding buttons rather than removing them. Volkswagen announced last year plans to bring physical buttons back to its steering wheels, admitting customers didn't like the touch-capacitive controls. Ultra-exotic manufacturers like Bugatti and Pagani have skipped over the touchscreen trend altogether, opting to focus on high-quality physical controls instead.
For automakers that continue to lean into touchscreens and touch-capacitive buttons, we suggest following Lucid's lead instead. While touch controls might look cool and feel technologically advanced, they're simply more bothersome (and in some cases, more dangerous) to use while driving.