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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Car companies need to stop reinventing things that already work
September 2, 2021
Jeremy Korzeniewski

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https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crim...g-dies-in-hospital/ar-AAO2Iaz?ocid=entnewsntp
I remember the first time I saw a rotary shifter pop up out of the console of a first-generation Jaguar XF sedan. “That’s kinda cool, but it's going to break,” I thought. And a quick internet search suggests those thoughts weren’t misplaced. But my second thought was that it was a gimmick that didn’t actually offer any sort of real-world improvement. I still feel that way, and I don’t mean to pick on Jaguar specifically. In fact, I’d say that rotary shift knob wasn’t the first such example of an automaker redesigning something that simply did not need any redesigning.

While Chrysler wasn’t the only automaker to produce push-button transmission controls, the brand famously introduced such a system way back in the 1950s before abandoning it the following decade. Chrysler, like Jaguar and Land Rover, has more recently dabbled in rotary knob designs, some of which have been investigated after owners reported that their cars rolled away because they weren't properly placed in Park. Today, there are knobs, stalks with and without buttons and levers, several different push-button designs, and, in one case, even cars designed to move from forward and reverse to park without any driver intervention at all.

There are many reasons cited for these unique shifters. Freeing up space (for cupholders, phone holders, bins and cubbies) is a common one, and some designers I’ve spoken with seem to think their creations are easier to use than anyone else’s. Some are indeed better than others, but I’d argue the shifter has already been perfected with the simple PRNDL lever that we’re all already familiar with. Nobody hops into a car and has to stop and think about how to use a traditional shift lever. It's also clear to the driver what gear the vehicle is in because a lever actually moves and points to the current setting. The same cannot be said of many of the button-, knob- and dial-based designs I’ve used.

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Doesn't seem like much in the way of new topics to discuss, thought I'd throw this out there!

Now that I'm used to it (didn't take long), I really like GM's electronic shifter in my CT4. Very easy to use with a flick of the wrist. Its to the point that I dislike getting into a car with an old style mechanical shifter - seems like a lot of work (definitely a first world problem there).

The only downside is it IS easier to forget to put it into park. I don't know what it is, not really that much different than a mechanical shifter from that perspective, yet somehow I feel it is a potential danger. I haven't gotten out of the car with it in drive, but I can see how it could happen to people.

With that said, the electronic shifter is a lot closer to the mechanical shifter than what this article addresses with various buttons or knobs. I don't mind the knobs or buttons, but they seem awkward to use if you need to quickly throw the car into reverse or neutral. Such as you just realized you went the wrong way up a one way street, you may need to back up quickly - fumbling with buttons or knobs seems less intuitive**. But, I guess once you get used to it....

**My thought is that with a mechanical shifter or even my electronic one, I intuitively know where my hand needs to go and I can decide what I need to do with my hand while I'm moving it. With a bunch of separate buttons I have to stop and think where I need to jab, such as in the below example. And the mechanical/electronic shifter falls readily to hand where the buttons in the below looks like you might need to lean forward and look.

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The rotary shift knob isn't horrible it's all about execution though, I think in the Jaguar it's fine. However my dad recently got a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and where the rotary knob is located it could be mistaken for a volume knob. Not like it would actually shift if you're on the highway but still poor location placement.

It took me a few days when I bought my last MKZ to get used to the buttons on the dash I kept wanting to reach for a shifter but now it's easy and I don't even think about it.
 

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"Stop reinventing things that already work" is a BS premise. There wouldn't be much progress (or at least, much slower rate of progress) if we stopped experimenting or trying to improve things that already work. After all, there's not much wrong with a horse for taking you from point A to point B. But you don't know how much better even a thing that "works" could be until you try something new.
 

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"Stop reinventing things that already work" is a BS premise. There wouldn't be much progress (or at least, much slower rate of progress) if we stopped experimenting or trying to improve things that already work. After all, there's not much wrong with a horse for taking you from point A to point B. But you don't know how much better even a thing that "works" could be until you try something new.
I think that he is talking about "innovation for its own sake". In this case, I think that he is right.
I envision having to downshift suddenly on a wet/icy, one-lane-each-direction mountain road. I do not want to be looking down and drift into opposing traffic, or spook opposing traffic into creating an accident because my eyes are off the road.

We had Eldorados with the trip computer at the bottom of the center stack. It was neat but that distraction can cause problems.
 

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But you don't know how much better even a thing that "works" could be until you try something new.
By the same token, you also don't know how much worse that thing that "works" could be until you try something new.

Change for the sake of change is even more a BS premise than "stop reinventing things that work".
 

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By the same token, you also don't know how much worse that thing that "works" could be until you try something new.

Change for the sake of change is even more a BS premise than "stop reinventing things that work".
If you try something new and it isn't as good, it just falls by the wayside. No big deal. That's how most things evolve. But if you don't try something new, things never get better.

More specifically, things like the rotary shifter in Jaguars (esp. when it was new) is not just change for the sake of change. It's a "conversation piece". That sort of thing is what drives luxury products.
 

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Had the rotary knob in my old 2016 Ram 1500. Hated it at first because it felt cheap and was too similar to the volume knob. After a week of ownership, I got used it. After I traded the truck a year later for a 2020 Sierra, I really missed the knob. Fast forward another year, and we trade the Sierra for a 2021 Acadia AT4 with the push-button shifter: Hated the idea of it, but in practice it works very well and I do like having the extra space in the center console.

I think it's just a matter of keeping an open mind on this stuff.
 

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"Stop reinventing things that already work" is a BS premise. There wouldn't be much progress (or at least, much slower rate of progress) if we stopped experimenting or trying to improve things that already work. After all, there's not much wrong with a horse for taking you from point A to point B. But you don't know how much better even a thing that "works" could be until you try something new.
Yep...**** changes, suck it up
 

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I don't care for the rotary shifter, but I hope they never put the shifter on the touch screen.
imagine little LCD screens on your steering wheel to have touch screen cruise control and touch screen volume controls

or little LCD screens on your door panel for touch screen window switches

lol
 

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I don't care for the rotary shifter, but I hope they never put the shifter on the touch screen.
That's where I draw the line...Rotary fine, touch screen not fine, and definitely not good with the car trying to figure out on it's own what gear it should be in.

One other thing I never understood was electric door latches from inside the car. On the outside, fine...for aesthetics I guess, but on the interior...there needs to be a damn handle in the normal space. If you want to do some auto close like MB...fine as well, but there needs to be that manual door handle/latch.
 

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**My thought is that with a mechanical shifter or even my electronic one, I intuitively know where my hand needs to go and I can decide what I need to do with my hand while I'm moving it. With a bunch of separate buttons I have to stop and think where I need to jab, such as in the below example. And the mechanical/electronic shifter falls readily to hand where the buttons in the below looks like you might need to lean forward and look.

View attachment 64366
That would have been quite at home at Chrysler and Dodge/Ram if they still used the push button transmission today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm all for changes and improvements, as EMH said, if you don't try... But they've been trying for decades and nothing has yet been that "OMG - we've cracked the code and have something better". The gear shift seems similar to the steering wheel, what we currently have is simple and work great, both have limited options to improve them. Seems like everything has already been tried. For the gear shift we've already had buttons that've come and gone. We've had other designs to replace the steering wheel - same deal. Tesla is trying to reinvent the steering wheel - I've no doubt that's one area that isn't going to work.
 

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That's where I draw the line...Rotary fine, touch screen not fine, and definitely not good with the car trying to figure out on it's own what gear it should be in.
I don't know... I'd definitely like to try that out. Vast majority of the cases, a parked car can only go in one direction (e.g., if you are parked in front of a garage or in a parking lot). Other times, there is a choice (e.g., parallel-parked with cars behind and in front) but if the car can measure the distances and suggest the optimal choice, that would take the guesswork out of it. Plus the driver can always override what the car chooses, and I suspect anyone who implements something like that would allow that feature to be turned off.

I was a bit skeptical about the car automatically shifting to park and applying the parking brake too until I started using that feature. Now I love it, and hate having to do all that manually in my wife's car. Minor thing? Sure. But it's definitely a convenience and has gotten me more open-minded to letting the car figure out more of the menial little details.

I am with BlackGTP on the steering wheel thing though.
 
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Doesn't seem like much in the way of new topics to discuss, thought I'd throw this out there!

Now that I'm used to it (didn't take long), I really like GM's electronic shifter in my CT4. Very easy to use with a flick of the wrist. Its to the point that I dislike getting into a car with an old style mechanical shifter - seems like a lot of work (definitely a first world problem there).

The only downside is it IS easier to forget to put it into park. I don't know what it is, not really that much different than a mechanical shifter from that perspective, yet somehow I feel it is a potential danger. I haven't gotten out of the car with it in drive, but I can see how it could happen to people.

With that said, the electronic shifter is a lot closer to the mechanical shifter than what this article addresses with various buttons or knobs. I don't mind the knobs or buttons, but they seem awkward to use if you need to quickly throw the car into reverse or neutral. Such as you just realized you went the wrong way up a one way street, you may need to back up quickly - fumbling with buttons or knobs seems less intuitive**. But, I guess once you get used to it....

**My thought is that with a mechanical shifter or even my electronic one, I intuitively know where my hand needs to go and I can decide what I need to do with my hand while I'm moving it. With a bunch of separate buttons I have to stop and think where I need to jab, such as in the below example. And the mechanical/electronic shifter falls readily to hand where the buttons in the below looks like you might need to lean forward and look.

View attachment 64366
I think part of it is just what everyone's used to - if we'd had push buttons this whole time, and someone suddenly came up with a PRNDL lever, it'd be the same reaction "why not stick with buttons instead of this lever?"

Same idea of BEVs and charging/filling up - everyone is used to the mentality of stopping for tank of gas when needed, rather than being at full charge daily.

Back on the buttons - it does seem like some systems are more intuitive than others - the whole "bop it" (referencing the toy) push-it, pull-it, twist it setup like pictured above doesn't seem very intuitive/would take a learning curve. I understand why (making sure there are deliberate actions for different gears), but seems like a mess. Lincoln's is more straightforward with the piano keys.

A lot of Ford products with the electronic/rotary shifters now switch the vehicle to park automatically if the door is opened to avoid forgetting to put it in park. But otherwise, the rotary setup is intuitive enough to me - same concept as the lever, just twisting instead of moving a lever.

I also think the argument against the Jag's shifter in the article was more about the fact it retracted down when the car was off and popped back up when on.


That's where I draw the line...Rotary fine, touch screen not fine, and definitely not good with the car trying to figure out on it's own what gear it should be in.

One other thing I never understood was electric door latches from inside the car. On the outside, fine...for aesthetics I guess, but on the interior...there needs to be a damn handle in the normal space. If you want to do some auto close like MB...fine as well, but there needs to be that manual door handle/latch.
Why does it need to be a handle, though? Just "because"?

I remember Ford tried those weird pulls in the '06 Explorer, and that was dumb, but is the a button that hard to figure out?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I think part of it is just what everyone's used to - if we'd had push buttons this whole time, and someone suddenly came up with a PRNDL lever, it'd be the same reaction "why not stick with buttons instead of this lever?"

Same idea of BEVs and charging/filling up - everyone is used to the mentality of stopping for tank of gas when needed, rather than being at full charge daily.

Back on the buttons - it does seem like some systems are more intuitive than others - the whole "bop it" (referencing the toy) push-it, pull-it, twist it setup like pictured above doesn't seem very intuitive/would take a learning curve. I understand why (making sure there are deliberate actions for different gears), but seems like a mess. Lincoln's is more straightforward with the piano keys.

A lot of Ford products with the electronic/rotary shifters now switch the vehicle to park automatically if the door is opened to avoid forgetting to put it in park. But otherwise, the rotary setup is intuitive enough to me - same concept as the lever, just twisting instead of moving a lever.

I also think the argument against the Jag's shifter in the article was more about the fact it retracted down when the car was off and popped back up when on.




Why does it need to be a handle, though? Just "because"?

I remember Ford tried those weird pulls in the '06 Explorer, and that was dumb, but is the a button that hard to figure out?
I feel like the rotary will work fine for my personal criteria, my hand can fall readily/intuitively to it and a quick glance, same with a manual lever, will tell me I've selected the right option. I feel like in a situation I need to shift quickly - snow and the aforementioned "oh, sh_t - wrong way on a one way street", push buttons just aren't as intuitive, however, I've not driven a car with them. Seems like they'd be like a radio button, not quite as intuitive.
 

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It took me a few days when I bought my last MKZ to get used to the buttons on the dash I kept wanting to reach for a shifter but now it's easy and I don't even think about it.
I like Lincoln's shifter a lot.
 
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