Is CES Turning Into a Car Show?

CES 2020 is still ongoing as this piece is written but it is already turning in some pretty interesting controversies…

Once known as the Consumer Electronics Show, CES has long been the place and event to showcase breakthrough consumer tech trends and innovations, boasting over 4,000 exhibiting companies and attended by some 170,000 attendees from 160 countries. CES remains hugely popular, albeit some criticism such as in 2019  for presenting an innovation award (subsequently revoked due to industry pressure) to a sex toy company led by a female founder.

This time, CES 2020 held in Las Vegas, is somewhat ‘sullied’ by Ivanka Trump being selected by the organisers to give the coveted keynote address, where media, participants and attendees did not hold back on their criticism of the CES organisers Consumer Technology Association (CTA) for showing undue privilege to a speaker who lacks tech credentials and experience.

However this time a good ‘controversial’ that is surfacing is that CES seems to be evolving into a car show – that to some conservative technologists, might be diverting away from the annual event’s evergreen theme of consumer tech. Many attendees though, greet the move of CES into a ‘car show’ theme with enthusiasm, especially observed with Sony’s unveiling of its Vision-S electric car concept under CES’ Vehicle Technology section. (The entire brevity of Sony’s latest automotive foray can be read here.)

Some industry observers opine that Sony’s move is designed to help it create market awareness for its car-centric technologies that include  IOT and mobility components; others in Reddit justify Sony’s move as an expected business diversification strategy, giving the examples of other  brands dabbling into other businesses such as Mitshbishi making TVs, Saab making jets and missiles, Lamborghini making chainsaws, Peugeot making pepper mills and more…

No doubt that this year, more than ever, it looks like CES is becoming the venue of choice for brands to showcase how they are embracing mobility – which is aptly captured in the idea of moving vehicles, as the future.

Apparently, over 160 automotive tech companies technology companies, including 10 major automakers are taking part in CES 2020 with the household brands touting the following technologies – which are, erm, not necessarily automotive-centric either. They are:-

  1. Honda’s incubator ‘Honda Xcelerator’ together with startups efforts focusing improving workplace ergonomics and manufacturing efficiency. Together with SoundHound, Honda will demo exoskeleton devices and a voice-enabled, AI-powered personal assistant; and showcases its “Smartphone as Brain” technology, which allows motorists to safely use their phones while on the road.
  2. Hyundai to reveal details about a flying vehicle concept autonomous-driving capabilities. The automaker will invest more than USD50 billion in electric and fuel cell cars, autonomous driving, flying taxis and mobility services, and says it will evolve into a “smart mobility solution provider” by 2025.
  3. Mercedes will reveal a concept vehicle it described as “envisioning a completely new form of interaction between humans, technology and nature,” and show its EQ EVs. Mercedes said it expects to introduce a fleet of 10 EVs by 2022, starting with the EQC electric compact crossover set to arrive in the U.S. in 2021.
  4. Nissan will showcase its electric crossover concept that will have a 300-mile battery range and go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. A production version of the five-seater could be ready by 2021.
  5. Renault will demo how the car dashboard may control home connected devices; and also its battery-powered EV with a hydrogen system that triples a zero-emission vehicle’s range.
  6. Toyota will reveal details around its new mobility ecosystem and demo several concept vehicles.

IT BYTES BACK Says: Surely by now every one reading this CES carshow piece could reminisce our very own flying car concept that was heavily promoted last year by a said Minister….only have our ‘Malaysia Boleh’ hopes collectively shot down to the ground when the ‘manned aerial vehicle’ was revealed to be an industrial-sized drone.