infotainment system in the AIWAYS U5 demonstrates a number of interesting and
novel features, according to SBD Automotive's latest infotainment expert usability
evaluation study. Among them are a customisable VPA avatar which
can adopt the user’s face and voice, dual in-vehicle cameras, and a three-panel
instrument cluster. However, a lacklustre integration results in a system that
can sometimes be painfully slow and frustrating to interact with.
SBD Automotive's UX Team carried out its infotainment expert usability
evaluation of the AIWAYS U5 cockpit in Shanghai. Launched in 2019, the U5 is a
mid-size electric SUV designed with a focus on connectivity and intelligent
systems (AIWAYS stands for “AI is on the way”). The car is expected to go on
sale in Europe later this year.
comprises a 12.3-inch central information display and a cluster formed of a
7-inch display flanked by two 4.2-inch supplementary displays.
its size and configuration, the instrument cluster provides a limited amount of
information. It also has minimal interaction with the central display and lacks
flexibility, with only the right panel offering some configurability. Overall,
it feels like a missed opportunity as it has similar limitations to a
conventional analogue implementation.
approach similar to Tesla’s, the central display is focused on navigation with
the home screen background being the map. The UI layout is divided into an
approximate 30/70 split with the left side providing a quick-access bar and
three customisable widgets for main functions. This provides a sense of
immediacy to core functionality and allows for a more freeform information
architecture than traditional UI designs.
Navigation is effective and
well implemented: it has predictive
and intelligent features including detailed information, parking POI
recommendations near destination and shortcuts for charging POI. The layout is
similar to that on CE devices, reducing the learning effort for first-time
The VPA is a
highlight of the system, providing various intelligent features such as
positional detection, “always on” for functions including navigation and
infotainment control, and corresponding animations designed according to
different voice commands. In addition, the user can customise the standard
‘whale’ avatar to a cartoon-style version of themselves or even use their own
photograph (and in future their voice) for the avatar.
The VPA demonstrates
good recognition capability, but sometimes fails to complete tasks, for example
not starting navigation after receiving a POI search command.
offers a good suite of features including QQ music, a comprehensive online
music catalogue, but it suffers from poor integration with the user seemingly
unnecessarily having to log in to QQ every ignition cycle.
in-vehicle cameras are offered, one to monitor driver alertness, the other to
log in to the infotainment system. It is unusual to see two cameras offered in
this way and adds somewhat to the end-user perception of high technology.
elements of the system suffer significantly from slow performance, most notably
system start-up and route navigation. System startup would be expected to be
instant or near-instant on an EV (as on the recently evaluated Taycan), however
this is far from the case. In some cases, such as HVAC operation, input sensitivity
is extremely poor which leads to a frustrating experience, especially while
U5’s infotainment system performs much of its core functionality pleasingly and
effectively while demonstrating several interesting new approaches and AI
features. However, it still leaves something to be desired in terms of finesse:
the system lag and input difficulties somewhat spoil the impression of an
advanced product, leaving it at times frustrating and slow to operate. These
are traits that are inconsistent with a new EV offering and likely to cause
disappointment to users.
Automotive's UX evaluations:
report is the fourth in a series of 12 infotainment expert user experience
evaluations SBD Automotive is carrying out this year. These reports have been
produced for several years and provide an expert evaluation of the leading
navigation and infotainment systems in the European, US, Chinese and Japanese
markets. The series has four main objectives, aimed at supporting clients at
various stages of the development cycle: Benchmark and score, Define areas of
concern, Outline best practice and Provide tangible recommendations. For these
studies, SBD Automotive evaluates the three core components of user experience:
functionality, ergonomics and usability, to ensure a fair score can be provided
across each system evaluated.
rely on a robust methodology that has been developed over the lifetime of the
series. It captures over 1,000 data points across 12 different disciplines
including static and dynamic testing, system performance, a feature checklist
and SUS scoring (see charts) to build a data set that can be consistently
benchmarked against all competitor cars, including an overall final percentage
system UX score.