Mercedes-Benz design chief Gorden Wagener on the EQS’ Hyperscreen: ‘Bigger the better’
This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.
Mercedes-Benz on Thursday unveiled the Hyperscreen, a massive single-piece infotainment screen that will be available on the upcoming EQS electric luxury sedan. Gorden Wagener, Daimler’s chief of design, talked to reporters in a virtual roundtable to explain more about the Hyperscreen and how it became a reality.
Wagener says the idea for the Hyperscreen first came about years ago, and it all started with a sketch on the wall at Mercedes’ now-shuttered interior design studio in Como, Italy. (Mercedes has since opened a new design studio in Côte d’Azur, France. Nice work if you can get it.) “I saw the sketch and said, ‘That’s amazing, let’s make that happen,'” Wagener says. “And we did make it happen! We made it feasible with a partner, and that really amazes me. We have a vision, a little sketch there, and we made it a reality.”
The Hyperscreen spans 56 inches in total, the entirety of the dashboard, and it has about 377 square inches of screen. It’s technically three separate displays under one glass panel, all of which are OLED units with super high resolution, but the transition from screen to blank glass looks seamless. “The bigger the better,” Wagener says.
When equipped with the Hyperscreen, the only physical controls on the EQS’ dashboard will be the start button and the light switch, and Wagener says that isn’t something that Mercedes will backpedal on — so don’t expect new Mercedes models to bring back more buttons and switches five years down the line. “We were pushing for the elimination of hard keys because it makes it clean and modern,” he says. “It’s a completely different thing to operate. As designers we love simplicity.”
The Hyperscreen will be optional, with the EQS getting a setup similar to the 2021 S-Class as standard that will have a standalone gauge cluster screen and separate infotainment screen in the dash. Wagener wouldn’t give that many specifics about the base system, but he says that the EQS was designed with the Hyperscreen in mind. “We started with the Hyperscreen, that was the focus point,” says Wagener. “We always have one eye on the standard version, but we did not want to compromise the high-end version.”
The dash of the S-Class (and ostensibly the base EQS) is dominated by a huge slightly curved trim panel, which is available in a multitude of wood, carbon-fiber, aluminum and piano black finishes. Fancy trim is a hallmark of any luxury car, so I ask Wagener how the Hyperscreen-equipped EQS will make up for the lack of that panel. “When the whole instrument panel is screen you have less space for traditional trim materials, but the Hyperscreen itself is the jewel of the interior,” he says. “It’s glossy, it has mega resolution, it’s sexy and simple. Seeing it in that size and brightness, it’s so much more beautiful than any trim material would do.”
There will still be fancy trim, such as chrome strips around the screen and wood pieces on the center console and dashboard, but Wagener says, “We’re moving away from traditional trim materials to digital trim materials” when it comes to Mercedes’ electric cars. The passenger side of the Hyperscreen can display animated patterns or image galleries, making it essentially a virtual piece of trim. “Once you use it and can animate it, put up pictures of your loved ones, it’s so much more valuable and rich and luxurious than what you’re used to.” Wagener also pointed out the propellor-esque analog air vents, which he described as “hyperanalog.”
The Hyperscreen is the type of innovation that designers dream about, stuff that’s typically reserved for concept cars, and Wagener didn’t mince words about how excited he is about it. “We will always put beauty first, we will never do an awkward solution. I’m so happy I can’t even believe it that this design vision became a reality.”