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Car manufacturers at CES: Autonomous and entertaining

The Eiffel Tower shines brighter than in Paris, and ancient Rome is only a pedestrian crossing away. And if you don’t constantly look at the clock, you quickly lose track of day or night. Nowhere are the transitions between illusion and reality so fluid as in Las Vegas. This also applies these days to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which has secretly developed from the largest electronics exhibition in the world to one of the most important auto shows.

A few large and important exhibitors such as General Motors (GM) or Mercedes canceled some of them at the last minute, which is why you can see a shockingly large amount of bare carpet between the airy stands in the Westhall, which was newly built especially for the horsepower industry. But they staged their premieres digitally.

At the CES, a lot is already being shown today that will only be taken for granted tomorrow. But a few years ago, no one could have imagined autonomous vans like General Motors’ BrightDrop, handing out groceries from supermarkets. Or robotic taxis like those from Waymo and Zeekr, which chauffeur night owls down Las Vegas Boulevard – and both are now almost a matter of course at CES.

Everything is autonomous and driverless

With the Mercedes S-Class and its electric cousin EQS, the first series-produced vehicles have just received level 3 road approval for autonomous driving. The driver can take his hands off the steering wheel for minutes and read or surf on the side, but within a few seconds he can be made responsible again. Meanwhile, dozens of cars, pods or transport capsules that no longer have a driver’s seat – let alone a steering wheel or pedals – are buzzing across the trade fair.

And suppliers such as ZF or Bosch report one order after the other for their new chips and sensors, with which they want to gradually get such concepts out of the hall and onto the streets. Or on the stubble field. For the first time, there is also an autonomous tractor between the cars at CES. With this, the manufacturer John Deere has proclaimed autonomous driving for farmers as well. And while it may still take a while on the asphalt, it should start in the field this year.

Incinerator – what is it?

Another future trend is more present than ever at the CES: The drive turnaround is ticked off. None of the consistently masked, vaccinated and tested visitors asked about burners. Not even after a Bugatti Chiron, around which petrolheads would otherwise rally. It just seems like a decorative accessory for a couple of e-scooters that are touted under the same brand name, and stands a little lost in the comparatively empty hallways.

This development is manifested by far-reaching announcements by important regular players. For example, GM has underlined its electrical commitment with a battery-powered version of the Chevrolet Silverado. It has been in second place in the registration statistics in the USA for decades. And at the Nobel subsidiary Cadillac an opponent for electric luxury liners like Mercedes EQS and Tesla Model S has been announced.

Virtually presented show cars

Chrysler has also committed to e-mobility with a long delay. With the Airflow Concept, which is designed for a range of 600 kilometers, a specific outlook on the brand’s first mass-produced electric model was given. And with the EQXX, Mercedes has declared range fears to be unfounded. The study should be able to drive more than 1000 kilometers on one charge. They want to prove that in real life on a long-distance lap in Europe in the spring.

The increasing electrification coupled with the far-reaching networking of the car is leading to another trend: the door for newcomers is wide open. And a couple of new candidates are marching through again at CES.

They come from countries like Vietnam. The Vinfast brand plans to pour four electric cars into the middle class in Germany, France and Holland this year and even build a factory in Germany for this purpose. Or they come from Turkey like Togg. Millions of cars are already being built there on behalf of third parties, but there has never been a brand of its own.

Tech companies flock to the car floor

Most of all, however, they come from new industries. Because if the services from Apple, Google, Amazon & Co are integrated more and more deeply into the cars and the screen diagonal is more important than the displacement for many customers, then entertainment giants can also become car manufacturers.

Sony, for example, has already put its second concept car in the spotlight with the Vision-S 02. Now a separate subsidiary for mobility services has even been established.

What they are focusing on becomes clear when they first encountered the study: While there is only rudimentary information about the driving performance and no information at all about the batteries, the explanators on the prototype can talk for hours about the screen landscape behind the steering wheel.

Cinema in the sky – and please let go

The fact that the established manufacturers also accept this challenge is shown not least by a so-called seat box from BMW. With this, the visitors to the fair can take a seat in the new Siebener, which will make its debut later in the year.

Not behind the steering wheel, however, but on the back seat. After all, the Bavarians installed a ceiling monitor there for the first time. It folds as wide as a cinema screen from heaven – with 8K resolution and Amazon Fire software. Driving fun becomes a minor matter.

It’s good that the iX M60 is celebrating its world premiere next door. As the first e-car from M GmbH and the first BMW with more than 1000 Nm torque, the 455 kW / 690 PS SUV will roll onto the streets from summer and is intended to prove that driving pleasure also has a future in the electric world.

Beam me up, Scotty!

The company apparently only attaches limited importance to this – at least according to a study by the trade fair organizer. CES claims to have found that two-thirds of Americans long for the autopilot.

And even among the sometimes more conservative Germans, according to a survey by the supplier Bosch, there is a longing for a new way of getting around: After all, more than a third (39 percent) of people in this country would be asked – regardless of the technical feasibility – on the future dearest beamed.

It is true that this time at CES they have interwoven vision and reality more than ever. And if you search a little, you will even find a prototype for a private space glider. But they are not quite that far even in Las Vegas. But the future has only just begun, and the boundaries between illusion and reality are fluid. (dpa / swi)

Also read:

CES 2022: Stellantis brings Amazon into the cockpit

Innovation presented at CES: the first BMW that changes color

CES 2022: VW and Mobileye keep ID.4 in the lane even without road markings

From the data center:

Autonomous Driving Survey

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Lenny Li

I started to play with tech since middle school. Smart phones, laptops and gadgets are all about my life. Besides, I am also a big fan of Star War. May the force be with you!

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