Screens are the real motors driving the car of the 21st century. With Renault launching its all-electric Mégane E-Tech, firestarter of the so-called Renaulution reform, another example is added to the list.
On the inside, the French compact crossover features a vertical touch screen for infotainment with a diameter of 12 inches. A flipped vent in between is attached to the 12,3-inches wide cockpit screen, forming an L-shape. It’s simply the biggest screen Renault has ever built (although Continental provides the unit). Is it really the ‘crowning jewel’ as the company nicknames it?
In its omnipresence, the OpenR dubbed system doesn’t fail to impress. It has even given the Tesla Model 3 a run for its money and reminds more premium players. The competition is keeping a close watch, also, as it has already been leaked that the Volkswagen ID.3 will soon get an update. With – guess what? – a larger infotainment display of… 12 inches.
The industry has come a long way from the point where it regarded too much TFT in the interior as distracting and disturbing. Still, Renault doesn’t give all reign to the touch screen, which uses aluminosilicate-based Gorilla-type glass-like iPhones. But, unlike a smartphone, there’s still a row of classical buttons underneath the screen for the ‘important’ functions.
With a bit of help from Google
Renault says that getting the screen right even put technical premises to the development of the underlying platform. Engineers moved the air conditioning into the motor compartment, freeing up the necessary space in the cockpit.
But while size matters these days, the most significant leap forward comes from the operating system. Like its old alliance partner Volvo and Polestar, Renault has handed over the software architecture to Google.
So the OpenR system runs on Android OS, benefitting from their map services and their complete ecosystem of apps. But the good thing is that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto remain available for those who like the alternative options those platforms can offer when it comes to navigation and entertainment.
List of expert names
And as a bonus, the system reacts seven times faster than the previous R-Link 2, which is less spectacular than it seems because R-Link was just slow.
The list of expert names doesn’t end with Google. Wireless technology innovator Qualcomm took care of the hardware and processing speed, while LG Electronics was responsible for pairing the two screens.
Who will follow?
As for now, Renault is one of the first general OEMs turning so extensively to third-party expertise for their onboard digital interface. Stellantis, which has signed a deal with Apple’s partner Foxconn, is also moving down the same lane but has put forward stronger ambitions to provide and sell digital services.
With the glitches at Volkswagen in mind while developing the ID.3, ultimately leading to the lay-off of their head of software Christian Senger, that move might prove a wise one. And indeed a Renaulution, that will be picked up by more mainstream contenders.