The annual Consumer Electronics Expo kicks off in Las Vegas next week. What was once a trade show for the tech industry has rapidly expanded into another venue for automakers to show off both the latest interactive technology, as well as a growing number of concept car debuts.
With autonomous driving and alternative energy sources looming large on the horizon, the tech world is converging with the car world more than ever before, transforming everything from key drivetrain components to safety features to the way consumers interact with their cars.
The biggest shakeups to the automotive industry at this year’s CES will be the wave of the next generation of electric mobility concepts from both fresh-faced and weathered automakers.
New to the industry is the mysterious Faraday Future, kept under tight wraps so far. The company only recently made headlines with the news of some experienced staff, like the head-designer of the BMW i-brand, a Co-Founder of Tesla, and engineers from the aerospace industry, as well as promises of a new connected, electric, and autonomous transportation experience. There’s also plans for a billion dollar Nevada factory. We’ll see just what all of that manifests to January 6th.
You can check out what we know about Faraday Future so far here:
At the other end of the experience spectrum, Volkswagen is debuting what many believe to be an all-electric Microbus concept. It’s the third bus concept the German brand has teased since 2001. We even have a pretty good idea of what the name of the new electric bus is, which you can read more about here:
There’s also rumors that Audi will have a concept to show off, which will likely be an all-electric or a hydrogen concept, probably in the form of a crossover.
The other old dog with new tricks at the trade show will be Chevrolet with the production version of the new all-electric Bolt, which debuted as a concept in Detroit a year ago. Back then Chevy claimed a 200 mile range and a price point close to $30,000, with a not-so-subtle attempt at beating Tesla to a down-market, practical EV.
With what appears to be four model introductions already in the bag, CES is beginning to steal the spotlight and coverage appeal from other major auto shows, and it will be interesting to see how much fresh news is left over for the Detroit Auto Show later in January.
Ford and Google/Alphabet will go into more detail on their cooperative creation of a new autonomous car company, which was easy to see coming but still a surprise when the companies announced the plan last week.
Ford will also have a new Mustang GT tricked out with a 3D graphic dashboard display from New Zealand company PureDepth and supplier Delphi, similar to the Virtual Cockpit system Audi debuted on the new TT coupe.
Toyota will talk about their goals of collecting highly detailed data on how human drivers travel, likely paving the way for a new development in route projection for GPS systems and ultimately autonomous driving.
BMW will demonstrate its new conceptual three-dimensional gesture control infotainment system. As the next step for the company’s current gesture control technology, which is already featured in the new 7-series, the computer will be able to read hand gestures from front-seat occupants in an attempt to minimize driver distraction for basic interior controls.
This is by-far the biggest year for automaker influence at CES, and considering there’s a lengthy list of automakers absent from next week’s lineup, it looks like the blending of the tech and automotive industries will only grow into the future.
Jalopnik will be at CES next week to try and keep up with everything, but we’re mostly really, really excited about a new Microbus — if Volkswagen is serious this time.
Top photo: the inside of the 2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV concept
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