There was a time when auto manufacturers created modern looking automobile dashboards by imitating the success of digital watches.
They ditched the “old fashioned” needle and opted for the clean look of digital numbers displayed in bold glowing digits.
This was an option available on high-end cars.
Aviation was soon to follow with digital displays especially on heads up displays.
The problem with digital displays that show only digits…is that the human eye is not accustomed to reading rapidly changing numbers that are instantly replaced.
We see these as a disconnect and not real. When rapidly accelerating or decelerating, it is unclear if the numbers are increasing or decreasing!
A needle moving around a gauge is easy to track and easy to observe even using our peripheral vision.
Today’s digital gauges now mimic the movement and appearance of analog gauges!
While there may be a space for the display to show the digits, the needles are back.
In high end cars, the driver can select the type of dash to suit the driving style. The Jaguar has a performance mode that moves the tachometer to the front and center with the speed off to the side. In a more elegant and sedate mode, the normal display shows the tach and speedometer at the same size.
2015 Corvette in sport mode with tachometer selected front and center