Fleet of the Future: A review of the 2016 CES Show
Volkswagen’s headline-grabber was the Budd-e concept, an all-electric, four-wheel-drive interpretation of the company’s famous camper van with a 233-mile range.
Inside, the connectivity technology showed how future VWs could be part of the Internet of Things, with owners accessing and controlling connected features in their home, such as the front door, fridge or energy use.
A mock-up the e-tron quattro Concept’s interior highlighted a curved OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen and AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, which means that screens in future will be able to take whatever shape fits into the dashboard.
Kia introduced its new Drive Wise autonomous driving sub-brand, under which it will introduce partially autonomous cars by 2020, with fully autonomous cars on the road by 2030.
The company is already testing a self-driving Soul in California, while an Emergency Stop System analyses the driver’s face and, if their attention strays for a too long, automatically drives to the side of the road and stops.
BMW’s centrepiece was the i Vision, which featured a number of advanced features, including a next-generation head-up display that adds 3D – or, technically speaking, autostereoscopical – capabilities, with information on vehicles on the road ahead and oncoming vehicles that are not yet in the driver’s field of vision. BMW claims this can give a driver an additional five and seven seconds to respond.
BMW also embraced the Internet of Things, with a display of a Smart Home and i3 networking with each other, so information about one is available in the other, and showed a new evolution of its ConnectedDrive system, BMW Connected, a personal digital assistant that users can use in any BMW vehicle.
Ford is exploring linking smart devices such as Amazon Echo (a wireless speaker and voice command device) and Wink (a smart home platform that incorporates a number of connected lighting, heating and security equipment) to its Sync-equipped vehicles – of which there are currently 15m vehicles on the road. A link with Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, could enable users to access their vehicle from inside their home, enabling them to do things such as lock or unlock the vehicle, check fuel level or provide the vehicle’s location.
Arguably the most attention-grabbing automotive exhibit on show at CES this year was a concept car from a bold new startup called Faraday Future.
The FFZero1 was a high-performance electric vehicle that resembled the car that an ecoBatman would drive. The company is said to have an investment of $1bn from Chinese internet TV company Letv and will start building a factory near Las Vegas in the next few months that will eventually employ 4,500 people. A serious rival for Tesla? We’ll find out in a few years.