The big question to ask is, “What do digital displays do that analog doesn’t do better?”
Analog displays are actually excellent from a human factors standpoint. My speedometer has markings in metric and english. At a glance, I can tell my speed in either one, without having to push a ‘mode’ button or do anything else.
Analog displays are excellent for visibility. As the light gets brighter, they actually get easier to read. At night, they are easy to illuminate.
Analog displays are reliable. In 25 years of driving, I’ve never had a speedometer fail on me.
Analog displays impart a ton of information at a glance. You soon learn that the needle should be about *there for highway travel, and about *there for city travel. At a quick glance, you can then tell whether your speed is about right.
Analog gauges for temperature and pressure and such are great, because the absolute value of these measures rarely matters. What matters if you are ‘in the green’. It also helps to know if you are in the high side of the green, or the low side. But whether the temperature is 300 or 305 is irrelevant in a typical vehicle. My eyes can sweep across the dashboard and instantly tell if all my various readings are good. If instead I have a bunch of digital readouts, it’s much, much harder to figure out exactly what’s going on. For example, if I glance at my instruments and see the temp needle high and the oil pressure needle low, that tells me a lot about what’s happening. But what if I look across and see the temp is 310 and the oil pressure 12psi? I have to do a lot of mental work to gain a ‘picture’ of what’s going on, especially if my numbers fluctuate around a lot.
So for digital gauges to replace analog, they have to offer something analog doesn’t have. There are some things like that. Peak hold, for example. Or fast response. That’s why you see lots of digital VU meters in audio equipment. They respond to transients faster than analog, and they can hold important values that you might miss with an analog needle.
But in a car, there aren’t many uses for that kind of meter. The C4 corvette was an interesting experiment in that it did try to give you new information with the tachometer - the bars were in the shape of the torque curve of the engine, so you could tell at a glance whether you were near the optimum torque. Of course, the problem with that is if you modify the engine or it ages, suddenly the torque curve is misleading.
The other reason to use digital gauges would be cost. In the past, they have been more expensive. But now I’m not so sure, and in the future it will almost certainly be cheaper to simply install a digital panel that replicates a whole bunch of instruments. This is a benefit to manufacturers, but it’s not clear that it will be a benefit to the rest of us.