Volkswagen GTI interior

Volkswagen CEO Acknowledges Mistake in Abandoning Buttons and Physical Controls

While the current Volkswagen GTI boasts improved performance compared to its predecessor, the absence of physical controls has deterred many potential buyers. This lack of tactile buttons and controls, such as those for climate control, has proven frustrating, particularly when trying to make adjustments in low-light conditions. However, there is some promising news as Volkswagen appears to have recognized and acknowledged its mistake, taking steps to rectify the issue.

Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer admitted that the new Tiguan incorporates more physical controls compared to other vehicles in their lineup. This decision was driven by customer feedback, as it became evident that haptic inputs were not well-received. Schäfer further acknowledged that the previous CEO’s choice to prioritize haptic inputs had negatively impacted the brand’s reputation.

“We have encountered frustrated customers who shouldn’t have been frustrated. Therefore, we have dedicated a significant amount of time to systematically analyze the functions that customers typically interact with while using a vehicle. We have ranked these functions based on their importance and determined which ones should be controlled through physical buttons and which ones can be handled through the screen. We have also considered the intuitive reach for actions like turning on the lights, prioritizing user-friendly placements.”

After the prioritization process, Schäfer emphasized the importance of determining the appropriate form of controls. He explained:

“Should it be a button? Should it be a switch? And once decided, we can focus on enhancing the aesthetics. When incorporating buttons, it’s preferable to have a minimal number of buttons, but they should be of exceptional quality, similar to those found in an airplane. We considered the haptic feedback and engaged a large team to thoroughly address these aspects. It was a time-consuming task, resembling an Excel spreadsheet of significant magnitude, but it was a necessary undertaking.”

Furthermore, Schäfer made a commitment that the forthcoming Volkswagen ID.2 would effectively demonstrate the outcomes of this fresh strategy. He emphasized the importance of intuitively placing controls to minimize the need for customers to consult the owner’s manual when making adjustments. However, it remains to be seen how extensively they will implement this approach, considering that buttons and switches are considerably costlier than touchscreens.