Re: Touch screens
"In our current car (Accord 2005), there is a touch screen for controlling navigation (hard to avoid), and finer adjustment of sound and aircon/ventilation. Mostly those are not needed, I just put the aircon on auto and adjust temperature."
Our Nissan Qashqai is the same, it's a pretty optimal control system arrived at after decades of evolution. The Tesla smart-screen revolution seems suboptimal to me* , and, I suspect, driven by cost-cutting since each individual switch has to be independently designed, manufactured, assembled and tested, while putting everything in screen / software is cheaper long-term after the upfront screen cost.
"OT: Why do cars need electric parking brakes?"
Don't 'need' them, but the electric park brake saves space in the central console where a physical handbrake would otherwise have to be.
*disclaimer - I've never actually tried it, any one with first-hand experience can surely give better feedback.