By Steve Winter
Always highly anticipated is the North American International Auto Show, but car enthusiasts with a passion for technology aren’t focused solely on Detroit.
Fact is, they have everything they need right here in Las Vegas at CES.
With nine major auto manufacturers and more than a hundred accessory producers and suppliers packing the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, CES is ablaze with all things related to automotive innovation, several of which appear to come straight out of the 22nd century.
Take, for example, Mercedes-Benz, whose newly-crafted E-Class sedan features an HD-quality monitor split into dual cockpit screens operated separately by mini touch-pads that sit conveniently under each thumb … or the luminous Ford GT race car with its Eco-Boost engine, formally dubbed “the Official Vehicle of CES 2016.”
Impressive as they are, those innovations are really only just the tip of the iceberg.
“The technology that consumers use in their everyday lives is all around the show here,” said Alan Hall, communications manager of technology, research and innovation for the Ford Motor Company. “It’s important for us to understand that and it’s important for us to integrate that into our cars making it easy for our customers to use as they’re driving in a safe way while adding convenience and just cool features to the driving experience.”
Several other manufacturers are following suit. Those with a major CES presence include Volkswagen, displaying their electric Microbus concept; BMW, which unveiled a bold new concept for automotive gesture controls; and the Ford/Google partnership which introduced the mysterious Faraday Future FFZero1 electric-powered single-seat concept car with four “Quad Core” motors producing over 1,000 horsepower and zero-to-60 acceleration under three seconds and a top speed over 200 mph.
“Here at CES, you won’t see many auto manufacturers introducing their new lines for the coming year, said Jim Pisz, corporate business manager of North American Business Systems for Toyota. “While CES is undeniably the place for innovation and revolution; the traditional auto shows found in every city around the world are still the place to go to experience new models and products.”
Oddly enough, one major manufacturer is taking advantage of CES to formally introduce a new product as GM unveiled its 2017 Chevy EV, a crossover electric hatchback with a 200-mile range, affordably priced at around $30,000 after incentives. Chocked full of technology, it integrates exterior weather conditions, the prevailing terrain and even the time of day with the owner’s driving history to help manage and predict performance. The large center-mounted 10.2-inch MyLink screen provides a display for the wide-angle rear camera with a birds-eye view capability while OnStar provides 4G LTE and a wifi hotspot to occupants.
Clearly, today’s consumer wants more than just a vehicle from their vehicle. They want connectivity as well as the safety and lifestyle benefits afforded by today’s new automotive technology
And for three more days, all that technology and more will remain on display, here at CES.
Steve Winter is senior vice president at Sage Communications, a Capitol Communicator sponsor.