Is the Auto Dashboard Future Dark?


I’m not usually a pessimist, but I think that the future is dark. At least I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the case for dashboards.

These days more and more cars have LED screens mounted in the dash giving drivers information about everything from what song is on the radio to GPS coordinates for where they’re going. It’s an awesome display of sensory overload.

Will dashboard displays go dark?

There’s just one problem. They’re all doomed. LED TVs are supposed to have a very long life span. That’s great for your living room, but car life is a lot tougher. First there’s the constant bouncing. Then there’s the¬†continual cycling. You may actually only turn on your home TV once or twice a day. Cars are different. I spent the today running errands and must have started the car 20 times. That’s 20 times the electricity has surged through the chips and boards. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting an early demise. I think the auto manufacturers have likely done their homework and have the best panels available in the cars they sell. But do I really expect those screens to be around in ten years? Not likely.

It would be an easy fix if they all used the same snap-in LED monitor. Some aftermarket company would likely figure out there was plenty of money to be made making replacements, and we’d have a steady supply for years.¬†Unfortunately, each manufacturer goes its own way. Even if they use the same screen, it’s mounted and installed in a unique way.

Mechanical parts might fail, but they’re pretty easy to replace. If you’re handy enough you can dig one up in a junk yard that might need nothing more than a simple cleaning or light rebuild. I don’t think the LED screens are going to enjoy a similar Lazarus-like existence. Those that burn out under warranty will surely be replaced, but after six or eight years will owners be willing to invest in a costly repair just to be reminded that they’re listening to Katie Perry or Billy Joel?

I can see the scene now. It’s 2042 and a 2012 (insert car name here) rolls across the Barrett Jackson (still selling…) auction block. Yeah, it’s a classic. Yeah, it has horsepower. But the big selling point will hit with the auctioneer announces, “And the LED screen still works!”


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