Earlier today, we told you about Volkswagen’s new concept car, the ID.2all, which is intended to become, in its production-car form, a cheap ($26,000 or so) small and usable electric hatchback – a modern EV equivalent of the famous Golf/Rabbit (At least back when it was a genuinely affordable car). There’s one detail we didn’t mention, but that has been mentioned online, and absolutely should be, because it’s great. It has to do with a company finally just having some fun with the possibilities offered by a digital dashboard, and also demonstrating the one reasonable excuse to have a skeuomorphic LCD instrument cluster: goofiness.
What VW showed on its concept was the ability to switch the instrument display and center stack display clusters between three different modes, which you can see here:
As you can see, you can pick between the boring-slick modern mode, which had rendered models of the car and delicate gradients, or “Classic Käfer Era” which is German for Beetle Era, and then “Retro Mode Golf Era.” So, we’re talking, really: modernity, late 60s to early 70s, and ’80s-era.
You can see the modes being selected a bit here; note that on the center selecting knob, the VW logo changes to the Wolfsburg Crest (you know, the castle with the dog on it) when it’s in Käfer mode:
Here’s what the Käfer mode looks like, along with the Beetle dashboard era I think it’s closest to referencing:
Based on the simple typography and the black radio grille surrounding the lone dash gauge, this feels like an early ’70s Beetle dash. The inclusion of the Wolfsburg crest there makes me think it’s after the speedo numbers simplified to the clean san-serif font from the more stylized font (1970) but before VW moved to the new steering wheel with a less-prominent Wolfsburg crest at the center (1972). I love seeing that old-school radio grille rendered there, it’s unexpected and fun.
If you prefer a bit more color and are more into, say, A-Ha than, oh, Kenny Rogers, then you can select the ’80s Golf-type instrument cluster:
This one also has a fun center stack infotainment display with a cassette player animation and some kind of bulletin board thing:
These are fun! You can literally make an LCD dash display look like anything you want, so why not have some nostalgic fun with it? I’m delighted to see VW doing this. I do, however, have one question: what did the company do about the dashboard turn indicator light?
Look, see the glowing green LED in the lower image above? If that corresponds to the green LED in the traditional instrument cluster of ’80s VWs (shown in the upper right image), then that would be the turn indicator lamp, which you will note has two arrows above it. That’s because, ever since the Beetle and pretty much every car VW made until, what, the late 1980,? VW insisted that one inside turn signal indicator was enough.
I mean, you know which way you pushed that lever, why should the car have to show you left and right arrows? One blinking light is plenty, I mean, what are you an Emperor? King of the world, over here, with two separate dash cluster turn indicator lamps? Come on.
So, what I want to know is did VW, when faced with an LCD screen that can display anything at all, choose to emulate the ridiculous, penny-pinching one indicator lamp, or did the company give in to decadence, and program in individual left and right indicator dash lights?
Oh, and since we’re asking questions, what’s this?
There’s a turtle on there? Is that a reference to a Gordon-Keeble? Or is it like one of the speed controls on a riding mower with the tortoise and hare?
I’d love answers to these questions, and I’ll reach out to VW, because so far the materials for the ID.2all don’t explain jack about these important issues.
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With more and more cars coming with LED screens in lieu of traditional gauges, I’d love to see more customizability like this!
I think the A3 is when they splurged with both left and right dash indicators.
The A2 cluster which I think is the referenced image lasted through the 92 model year! 92 Jetta/Golfs were still A2 in the US (Europe got the A3 in 92)
Like beetle production continued in Mexico for a approx. another 20 yrs. after prod. had stopped everywhere else.
The A2 gen Jettas were still produced in China through 2012 🙂
The Chinese A2s got updated clusters, though – IIRC it was originally the Corrado/B3 Passat cluster, and then later on updated clusters with the same form factor. And, those had both turn signals.
My father’s early BMWs (1970 2002Ti and 1973 Bavaria) only had one flasher light. When I was driving them, my friends would always think it was the weirdest thing. It seemed like such a non-issue, all you need to know is that it’s on. Much stranger was that the switch was on the “wrong” side but nobody ever commented on that.
The turtle is most likely a Eco symbol to encourage to save the turtles (by driving slowly).
I have a late 90s VW, from after they finally caved and added separate arrows for the turn signal indicators. Neither of them work in my Polo, and to add insult to injury, it only does the clicking sound with the right turn signal. It got to me like that and when I asked for a quote for those repairs I was presented with a figure close to the car’s market value (not the only time that this happened; I was quoted TWICE the market value of the car to get the door locks working again). I don’t know what’s with these cars, but some stuff is just inexplicably complicated to fix. Changing a headlight/indicator bulb involves removing the bumper, grille, fender and both the headlight and indicator, which are separate modules but only come off together.
So, going back on topic, these dashboard themes are pretty cool, quite likely the thing I like the most about having screens emulating analog gauges. But I really hope these EVs also make it easier to do basic maintenance, like replacing dead bulbs.
My girlfriend really wanted an ID.4, buy when we started to read reviews, there is an ongoing shitstorm with the software that manages the dash and quality issues with trim. As the former owner of a 1989 Jetta, it made me nostalgic knowing that VW has managed to capture the rage inducing incompetence of my 1989 shit box and carry it into the EV era.
Sufficed to say, looking at that 80s gauge cluster brings back living in constant fear, and needing jumper cables frequently.
My brother has an ID.4 and the software issue is a real thing. The updates are always promised and aren’t delivered OTA, plus you have to go in to the stealership to get it done.
Also, if your username is an indication you wouldn’t be happy with the lack of a Frunk in the ID.4!
The one-signal-indicator thing is like a 12-hour clock. What, you don’t know whether it’s day or night? Look out a damn window!
Oh, “a window.” Oh, I say, we are grand, aren’t we? “Oh, oh, no more buttered scones for me, mater. I’m off to play the grand piano. Pardon me while I look out my window.”
I grew up in a box buried in 10 feet of mud. I didn’t see the sun until I was 17! You spoiled rotten youths of today, with your transparent “windows,” able to see the sun during the day and stars at night. Bah!
Funnily enough the 80s VW cluster uses a 24 hour clock
I am twitching from flashbacks to 1984 and that damned upshift light constantly hassling me to put my girlfriend’s Golf Cabrio into 5th at 35mph. I put some black electrical tape over it and she was verrry grateful.
I had a ’85 GTI and had forgotten all about the upshift light. I learned to ignore it for the most part. You could also make it go out by pressing down on the accelerator pedal, which I did frequently being in my early 20s at the time.
Never had a problem with the single turn indicator LED. I know which way I moved the lever.
That was my thought: that the turtle is where the upshift light was on our 82 Rabbit. Disabling that was one of the first things I did after parents gave it to me. That, and I added front lap belts because it came with only the shoulder belts secured to the doors. Always thought that was stupid.
Many of these fake gauges seem cheesy to me, but I like these-likely due to nostalgia
I remember reading about the ‘economy’ light in the owners manual for my first car (an ’86 Polo). I think it only came on the top spec model, which also had the unimaginable luxury of FIVE forward gears!
I could only dream of such things, in my base model 1047cc Polo.
The turtle is a mistake.
It should only appear on their upcoming electric camper van with the dash set to retro.
When you encounter a grade of more than .00001%, the camper van will behave like the original camper van and limit your speed so that traffic is backed up behind you for for 5 miles.
The default dash will just be a generic digital speedometer and rage readout. All the cool displays will be locked behind a monthly subscription. “Only $19.99 a month!”
Having a “rage readout” could really come in handy actually. I’m just wondering if it’ll display my rage level to remind me to calm down or the other driver’s rage level so I know when I need to stop antagonizing them…
Or, for just $49.99 a month, you can DESIGN YOUR OWN IP. Woo-hoo! Shut up and take my money!
If you put it in Beetle mode, do you only get AM mono radio?
Does it have an upshift light too?
I am disappointed – you completely missed the much bigger story: The YELLOW high-beam indicator (top right in the original cluster)!. Because blue LEDs were still way too expensive at the time.
I miss the days before blue LEDs.
Seriously, though – why did the Beetle need an inside turn indicator *at all*? The turn signals, at least from ’58 on, were on top of the fenders – surely an additional lens on the back side of them could serve as both a repeater and a driver-facing indication of which blinker is on?
The one turn signal light is a detail I had forgotten. I had an 84 Jetta and my mom had an 82 Rabbit Convertible with the LED cluster so I saw it often enough. Thankfully neither car had the upshift light.
My 1987 Porsche 928 – their most expensive*, executive GT car – has only one double-headed green arrow light as well. Was it a German thing? Or maybe a Euro thing?
I love it. Longer term they should just add more and more from the entire VW group portfolio, and let you set one for each drive mode. Put it in Sport mode and get a Lamborghini cluster. Put it in Eco, OG beetle.
That dash takes me back to my dad ’84 GTI. I miss that car, although as a kid, it wasn’t that great for sitting in the back of.
This is great for the person (like me and many others) who has a smart watch but chooses to have dials instead of numbers.
As Rando Kuruza commented, the turtle is likely for “turtle mode” and also appears on the Leaf. It may be on other models as well. Basically, if the battery gets too low the car will limp along at a max of 25mph for as long as it can.
Or, someone consulted with Terry Pratchett for design ideas. Could go either way.
I should add that I would love to see a tool published that allows owners to really redesign a dash and upload it to their own car. A couple of fun options is nice, but what if I wanted to replace that cassette with an 8-track? Maybe some optional gauges, like 1/4 mile time, 0-60 time? Torque Pro would be a good example of this idea, just apply it to dashboards.
Maybe they could charge a subscription……..
I agree with the fun factor. I was looking at the IP in my 2023 Corvette, and wondering if they could add a Tic-Toc-Tac like the old Camaros.
Give me the early 2000’s purple and red color scheme please.
I’ll bet the turtle is “limp home mode,” which my Leaf has. It’s when you run the traction battery down and are running on speed-limited reserve.
Yeah, it is probably that. A similar icon is used for other EVs. If it is something else, it would be rather confusing…
I do hope more retro-style cluster screens show up in other cars – even the early digital dash displays. Like Ford’s that were in models like the Taurus or Aerostar or Villager with the bar chart tach, or Nissan’s digital gauges – whether the 80s Z or the ovoid dial ones that I think were usually paired with the HUD option on some models.
This is the deep diving, hard hitting reporting I come to this site for.