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CES: Big car turnout at Vegas tech show
Switched on: More that 12 car brands were represented at this year's CES in Las Vegas with everything from clever LED displays, car communication and autonomous driving tech all on display.
Automotive presence continues to grow as car brands favour CES
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8 January 2016
WITH modern cars relying more than ever on complex electronics to remain safe,
efficient and fun, the world's mainstream automotive brands are increasingly
turning to the Consumer Electronics Show to show off their latest hardware and
Hosted each year in Las Vegas, the CES is the world's largest tech show,
sprawling over three main locations across the city with the 2016 show
experiencing the greatest automotive brand presence since it started in 1967.
Alongside the high-definition internet televisions, robots and smartwatches,
more than ten of the world's most recognisable car brands had something to show
off, from autonomous driving technology to an increasing focus on what some are
calling “the internet of things.”
Audi revealed an evolution of its Virtual Cockpit high-resolution screen
technology which is now curved, larger and has spread to the centre console,
moving all climate and comfort controls to a large touchscreen in addition to
the all-LED instrument cluster.
The German car-maker also showcased an innovation that takes the same LED
screen technology outside the car and into a set of tail-lights, that can
modulate in brightness and colour far more flexibly than regular LED diodes.
Even moving images are made possible with what is effectively a screen in place
of regular tail-light clusters, and for the show Audi had arranged a
mesmerising flame pattern displayed in the shape of the boot lights.
BMW was not going to miss the party and brought a doorless version of its i8
Spyder sportscar that can drive itself, communicate with other cars and
buildings, and uses an evolved version of the company's gesture control
technology to select vehicle functions.
In another i8-based concept, the German car-maker explores the possibility of a
mirrorless car, and has replaced the conventional door and rearview mirrors of
its hybrid sportscar with miniature cameras. The images are consolidated into
one image, which is displayed where the regular reflected rearward image would
normally be seen.
Mercedes-Benz made an appearance with a pop-up version of its Mercedes Me
store, one of which will be coming to Melbourne next year, as well as a sneak
preview of the information and communication system that will keep occupants of
the next E-Class entertained.
Volkswagen showed up with an autonomous electric van called the Budd-e, which
manages to go 533km on a single charge, and can recharge a flat battery to 80
per cent in just 30 minutes.
The car-maker also rolled out its e-Golf Touch, which previews a new large
9.2-inch touchscreen control system that will be finding its way into compact
VWs in the near future.
Chevrolet used the show to roll out its first mass-produced electric vehicle
and the Bolt, which can travel about 320 emissions-free kilometres and will be
available for sale in the US in late 2016.
The little zero-emissions town car is expected to gain a strong following in
the US but at this stage, the car is not chalked for right-hand drive
production, ruling it out for sale Down Under.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the fourth generation of its Uconnect
infotainment system, reporting better performance and smartphone compatibility
that will roll out in new models this year.
The car giant demonstrated the improved version of its system in a 2016 Dodge
Challenger Pursuit police car.
While not attending as a standalone brand, exclusive British marques Bentley
and McLaren still managed a presence at the show. Bentley teamed up with
in-car-audio authority Monster to produce a Continental GT V8-based “Monster by
Mulliner” showcar that is as pleasing on the ear as it is on the eye.
McLaren wheeled out a version of the freshly unveiled but already sold out
675LT that was created in conjunction with new Formula One partners JVC and
The car has lost even more weight over the already bantamweight production
version with the use of revised interior materials and deleted components,
while the cabin is enhanced with state-of-the-art tech such as a fighter-plane
type head-up display.
Its standard steering wheel is replaced by the type found in its hyper-hybrid
P1 sibling and its wing mirrors are swapped out for more aerodynamic cameras,
that relay images including a rearward view to a monitor where a conventional
rearview mirror would sit.
While South Korean brand Kia did not have a full new car it was willing to show
off at CES, the car-maker did build some hype surrounding a new large SUV that
is in the pipeline, using the show to announce that the model will officially
break cover at the Detroit show next week.
Toyota was also demonstrating its advances in information gathering and
processing with a system that uses more conventional cars to map urban and
rural areas for use by autonomous vehicles.
Huge quantities of data could be farmed by Toyotas fitted with cameras and
sensors normally used for city braking and lane-keeping technology, which is
then sent to a central data bank where it is refined and collated into up to
the minute maps that self-driving cars can follow.
Fellow Japanese brand Mitsubishi used the occasion to dust off its Emirai 3
xDAS concept car since its last public showing at the Tokyo motor show in 2015.
The futuristic topless electric car has widespread LCD and touchscreen displays
dotted around the minimal and clean interior.
Ford rounded out proceedings from automotive exhibitors with a host of new
projects that are headlined by a threefold increase in autonomous vehicle
development that will result in 20 new self-driving cars.
Alongside the major initiative, its four smaller scale projects will develop
vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, whilst
nurturing a partnership with mobile communication service providers, as well as
head-hunting a new generation of “innovators”.