Automakers Dominate Debuts at CES 2023

After two years of pandemic interference, the Consumer Electronics Show was back in full force last week with a larger than ever automotive presence.

More than 300 auto-related presenters descended on Las Vegas to show off their latest ideas and products, ranging from flying cars to electroluminescent camouflage to cockpits outfitted with wall-to-wall digital screens. The show began on Wednesday with an opening keynote not from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple or Samsung. The subject wasn’t artificial intelligence, smartphones, smart TVs or robots that can wash your dishes and fold your laundry, as you might expect at the biggest tech show in the world. Instead, the host was BMW and the subject was the automobile.

“In just a few moments you will meet the perfect digital car of the future,” announced BMW’s chairman Oliver Zipse. The lights dropped and out onto the stage came an all-white, all-electric, self-driving BMW that spoke with a woman’s voice like Siri or Alexa.

“I am Dee, your ultimate companion,” she said. “This is how we reimagine tomorrow.” Dee stands for Digital Emotional Experience and represents an attempt to create a bond between driver and car as custom tailored as that between human and smartphone. Dee allows drivers to control every action in the vehicle with their voices, from parking and accelerating to picking out a movie to watch as a vehicle steers itself down the highway. It allows drivers to choose the color of their vehicle’s exterior based on their mood with BMW iVision Dee technology. During the keynote, Dee shuffled through dozens of colors. White for a warm summer day. Midnight blue for a fancy night out on the town.

BMW says that Dee will come to market in its next generation of vehicles, dubbed the Neue Klasse. BMW will provide further insights and glimpses of the vehicle concept of the Neue Klasse over the course of 2023. Paul Myles has more details.

Other highlights from the show:

Sony and Honda introduced their new brand for their joint venture, Sony Honda Mobility. The brand is named Afeela and aims to seamlessly merge automotive and digital experiences through all-electric vehicles. The first prototype is a mid-sized sedan with a white body and snappy black roof and a digital experience powered by Qualcomm. Sony Honda Mobility says it will open up for orders in 2025 and start deliveries in 2026.

Volkswagen partially unveiled the latest member of the ID family, the all-electric ID.7. I say “partially unveiled” because the vehicle was wrapped in a digital QR code that obscured many of its features. Showgoers could use the QR code to pull up more information about the vehicle, including its exterior coat of electromagnetic paint, which, like BMW’s iVision Dee technology, allows the car to change colors at the tap of a button.

Stellantis debuted the Ram 1500 Revolution BEV concept pickup truck, which featured customizable seating, including third row jump seats and a retractable steering wheel to enable Level 3 autonomous driving. The electric pickup will head into production in 2024, when it will look to compete with the likes of the Ford F-150 electric truck, the Tesla Cybertruck and the Rivian R1T. No word yet on pricing.

Stellantis-owned carmaker Peugeot introduced its vision for the future of its EV lineup: the Inception Concept. The Inception has a whiff of the Tesla Cybertruck in its exterior design, all sharp angles and dramatic lines, in this case deployed on the body of a sporty sedan. Inside, the vehicle can change color at the tap of a button and has a square steering wheel fashioned after a video game console. Peugeot says it wants the Inception to help cement its status as the leading EV carmaker in Europe, although debuting the vehicle in America suggests that Peugeot might be considering a North American strategy as well.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *