In the automotive design sphere, interiors were playing a second fiddle, while enhanced aesthetic features resided in the metal sheet of the exterior. However, the game has been radically changing, in recent years, with the rise of connected mobility and autonomous vehicles. The revolution of automotive interiors is underway in current models filled with advanced features, technologies, and materials, and multifunction switches are no exception.

While the industry has for a long time been based on increasing volumes and reducing prices, OEMs as well as component suppliers including switch manufacturers are facing a myriad of challenges – in the light of reducing emissions and weight along with electrification and digitization drive towards connected cars. In the current scenario, where the volume won’t steadily grow, switch manufacturers are leveraging and tracking new technologies to differentiate their products and align with emerging trends of enhanced in-car ambience.

Smart Switches over Basic Interior Controls – The Shift is Underway

In the era of unprecedented change, the saleability of a car is likely to depend on how well it is integrated with consumers’ digital lifestyle. As the car becomes an extension of personal space and overall digital experience, automotive multifunction switches will have a key role to play, thereby compelling manufacturers to redefine their line of designs and products. Technological innovations such as smart seating, paddle shifts, and stop/start functions will require multifunction switches for instant and enhanced control, but they will be smart switches – undreamed of a few years ago. Apart from basic interior controls, smart switches will be required for particular characteristics such as high reliability and self-failure detection. As consumer expect the same experience as they get from smartphones and tablets, automotive manufacturers are pinning their hopes on human-machine interface technologies, which may result in further changes in the multifunction switches.

Rapid emergence of infotainment trend in auto vehicles has also led to the development of innovative multifunctional switches for steering wheels as well as display units. Touch sensitive switches or touch control buttons, which react precisely to horizontal and vertical movement of fingers, are making significant progress in the automotive interiors, allowing drivers to control all relevant vehicle functions while both hands stay on the steering wheel. Moreover, infotainment in cars is becoming as important as the car performance, which is likely to offer the opportunity for cross-market solutions from the consumer electronic sector.

Autonomous Vehicles Call for More Control Functions

Following the announcement of ban on the sales of petrol and diesel engine cars by 2040, the sales of electric vehicles and autonomous cars are likely to ramp up in the years to come. However, the car of the future is still in flux, in terms accident-free features and efficiency of battery-powered engines. The move towards self-driving will further need to integrate more control functions within a vehicle. As it will not be possible to rely on one-size-fits-all solutions for diverse set of requirements, automotive multifunction switch and other component manufacturers will need to come up with innovative strategies.

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