electronic instrument

Electronic instrument cluster

In an automobile, an electronic instrument cluster, digital instrument panel or digital dash for short, is a set of instrumentation, including the speedometer, that is displayed with a digital readout rather than with the traditional analog gauges. Many refer to it simply as a digital speedometer.

Electronic instrument cluster were an option in many motor vehicles manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s, and were standard on some luxury vehicles at times, including some models made by Cadillac and Lincoln. They included not only a speedometer with a digital readout, but also a trip computer that displayed factors like the outdoor temperature, travel direction, fuel economy and distance to empty. Many vehicles made today have an analog speedometer paired with the latter in digital form.

Digital dashes were considered to be unpopular during the years when they were widely produced, and were heavily criticized by reviewers in automotive magazines. Some of the criticism they received was as follows:

  • They were hard to see in the strong sunlight or other bright light
  • They took away the sense of change in speed that is provided by an analog speedometer
  • They were expensive to repair in the event of a malfunction

As a result of these issues, digital instrument panels were phased out of vehicles throughout the 1990s, and have been replaced with traditional analog gauges in most vehicles, including those from luxury divisions. However, many vehicles are made today with a standard or optional trip computer located independently from the speedometer.

In the 2000s, digital speedometers have been produced in some hybrid vehicles, including the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic

Most digital speedometers have had green numbers displayed on a dark green or black background. The current model Honda Civic has an upper digital dashboard with white numbers against a blue screen, digital fuel and temperature gauges. The lower dashboard has an analog tachometer and digital odometer.

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