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Instrument clusters go digital

November 17, 2011 | Christoph Hammerschmidt | 222901914
Instrument clusters go digital Instrument clusters with electronic displays are increasingly supplanting electromechanical pointer instruments. The trend is taking up speed, says market research company IMS.
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By 2018, almost 7 million vehicles will be equipped with purely electronic instrument clusters, market researcher IMS predicts. But electronic instrument clusters with their context-sensitive displays won't remain the only major change - also head-up displays, in earlier days a feature restricted to jet fighters and in the present to luxury cars, are conquering the drivers' seat. IMS believes that by 2018, drivers in more than 3.5 million vehicles will have a head-up display to read speed and other information. The market for these systems will add up to $2.5 billion.

The IMS market researchers categorize the instrument clusters into three groups: Analog, hybrid, and digital. Analog, obviously, is the classic electro mechanic instrument panel containing a physical dial and needle for the conventional instruments such as speedometer or rev counter. A completely digital cluster displays all these classical instruments on a TFT-LCD, LCD or VFD screen. Such clusters can be programmed to display the appropriate selection of virtual instruments according to the driving situation or to the driver's preferences. Hybrid clusters are a combination of analog and digital cluster, for example with two mechanical instruments and a small LCD screen for the trip computer between these two.

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