In the last decade we’ve witnessed an increasing presence of Automotive OEMs and their suppliers, with new model and technology development announcements, typically unheard of in the past.
Traditionally, the automotive industry has reserved major reveals for international auto show circuits. Automakers enjoy CES, with massive press attendance from within and outside the transportation field to see demonstrations of the new technologies’ and to unveil the latest technology-based innovations. Despite the surge of the Omicron variant and the absence of Ford, GM, and the GAMAM, the show was quite interesting for those who were able to attend in-person.
In regards to transportation, CES 2022 has put spotlight on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). If the solutions of driving assistance relies more and more on cameras, the need for safety makes LIDAR an essential feature to achieve redundancy. Many manufacturers and innovators were also present. At a time when manufacturers are looking to develop or sign partnerships around automated driving, Qualcomm highlighted its recent acquisition of Veoneer and the Arriver solution coupled with its Snapdragon processor. Volvo, Honda, and Renault have already signed up for Snapdragon. Honda however is expected to rely on Cruise solution as the OEM partnered with GM, while Volvo and Renault are very strongly committed to Google for the vehicle’s software integration. New shared mobility seems to have taken a back-seat to ADAS, as automated driving led the way at CES this year.
Several other heavy weights were also absent due to recent spikes in Covid including Facebook (Meta), Waymo (Google), Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple who all threw the towel in within the two weeks that preceded the event. For the most part, these companies made use of presenting online, but with live-streaming as the only option. General Motors used this opportunity to unveil their latest EV offering, the Silverado EV.
Stellantis, Fisker, and BMW, stood out on-site and introduced a new EV and mobility technology respectively. Sony, Indi, Edison Motors, and TOGG were among a new crop of companies entering the automotive scene.
New to the CES circuit, and to most of the world, was automaker, Vietnam’s VinFast, which presented its new range of all-electric models. In passing, the manufacturer has announced that it will be the first automaker in the world to eliminate combustion engines from its line-up by 2023. This could be seen as drastic, however, the brand is merely 4 years old. At the very least, we would have no trouble believing that the short presence of combustion engines was only used to argue their own disappearance.
VinFast offers two main crossovers, the VF8 and VF9, priced slightly above $40,000 and $50,000. These models require owners to add subscriptions for batteries and safety-based driving aids. The subscription model in and of itself appeals to many consumers, particularly where there isn’t a “major” hardware investment. However, subscription on top of credit or lease payments is both bold and questionable considering cars are generally a household’s second largest cost. Similar to Tesla’s driving aids, the probability to pirate these subscriptions by independent companies and turn them over to owners for a one-time payment, is high.
Additionally new to most of the automotive world was the debut of a Turkish manufacturer, TOGG. The new OEM focused on renewing the vehicle experience and shared mobility solutions with a concept vehicle, proportional and pleasant looking, while the Edison Futures pickup truck seemed brash and large in-person.
The models exhibited by Sony and Indi raise many doubts as to their longer-term strategy. These unveiled vehicles lacked personality, and had a rather aseptic approach with no unique features or capabilities being marketed. Talking to the brands’ representatives, the arguments put forward seem light, they talk about the power of the embedded computer or other superfluous features. However, the real question is whether these concepts were present to announce a possible future commercialization or if they are actually technology demonstrators to install Indi or Sony in the OEM chair – to provide software or embedded solutions.
Stellantis was present with a product-oriented stand. The Chrysler Airflow, a name referring to a significant and innovate model for the brand, was pleasant and announced the concretization of the electric strategy for the brands in North America. On the other hand, BMW put its best foot forward with mobility concepts that were cool yet perhaps not fully relevant to grab market shares. A giant wide screen stretching across the b-pillars in the back of a sedan, a color-changing car that looked sloppy up close, and innovations on sound and graphics that will amuse new owners for a short while.
On the other hand, no one was there to answer the question about the technical specifications of the engine and battery of the new iX M60, instead questions were redirected, “You have to look at the brochure.”
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