Ford Motor Co. officials relied on extensive customer research to create the 2021 Mustang Mach-E electric crossover. As part of that, Ford brought dozens of would-be buyers into its Dearborn, Mich., design studios to test the vehicle's new 15.5-inch touch screen.
What Ford's product team learned was that most customers wanted a physical knob to control radio volume. Ford worked with an unnamed supplier to create a metal knob for the job. Shaped with a hole in the middle, like a ring, the controller is bonded directly to the screen. Touching and turning it has the same effect as touching the screen.
The knob will be used only to control volume. But because of how it's bonded on the screen, Ford plans to give it additional functions in the future through over-the-air software updates.
"It's a very versatile technology and will continue to change," said Darren Palmer, Ford's global product development director for battery electric vehicles.