The Motor City and Silicon Valley will meet in Las Vegas this week at the CES technology showcase to discuss the newest advancements and technologies both industries have to offer in the race to connected and autonomous vehicles.
At least nine major automakers, including Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, will attend. In addition, there will be more than 100 other auto-related companies as well as myriad tech companies demonstrating and discussing their latest products.
“We’ve witnessed a rising tide of the suppliers and vehicle OEMs, and now big tech companies,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research for the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes the CES show. “It has definitely become the go-to event globally for vehicle tech … and it continues to grow.”
CES, which runs Tuesday through Sunday, will include 128 auto-related companies situated over 200,000 square feet of floor space. It’s the largest auto presence ever at the show. Unlike traditional auto shows, it is not open to the public. It’s a trade show for companies to meet, mingle and demonstrate their newest technologies, while hosting media for news conferences.
“Obviously, CES has grown increasingly important for automakers to demonstrate that they are advanced technologically and they have innovative vehicles coming,” said Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs.
Fiat Chrysler will start the show with its first-ever press conference at CES. The Italian-American automaker is expected to unveil at least one all-electric vehicle concept as well as showcase its fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system.
The automaker has not released details of the premiere. However, Bloomberg News last month reported that the vehicle is expected to be based on the Chrysler Pacifica, which Google’s self-driving car project — now known as Waymo — is using to test its autonomous driving technology.
“This year it’s important for Fiat Chrysler to be there because they haven’t demonstrated much, except form their partnership with Waymo, that they are in the autonomous game,” Krebs said.
Ford last week announced it will debut its second-generation of autonomous Ford Fusions in Las Vegas. The automaker recently completed 20 upgraded Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicles to add to its fleet of 10 vehicles that debuted in 2013, with plans to add 60 more by the end of 2017.
“It’s been three years since we hit the streets with our first Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle, and this latest version takes everything we learned and builds on it,” reads a blog post from Chris Brewer, Ford’s chief engineer of autonomous-vehicle development, on online publishing website Medium.
General Motors Co. premiered its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt at last year’s show. It will skip Las Vegas this time around.
Toyota Motor Corp. plans to debut a new concept vehicle at the show that it said highlights the importance of the user experience, but declined to release details.
Nissan Motor Co. has been mum on its plans. CEO and Chairman Carlos Ghosn recently said the automaker will have a “substantial presentation.”
Hyundai Motor Co. will demonstrate its autonomous Ioniq sedan concept, which it unexpectedly debuted in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Chinese-backed Faraday Future will debut its first production car in Las Vegas. Last year the California-based electric car startup unveiled the FFZERO1 concept, a futuristic-looking, 1,000-horsepower electric race car, at the show.
Leading auto suppliers in connected and autonomous vehicle such as Delphi Automotive PLC and Continental AG also will show off their latest.
The German auto supplier, a show attendee for more than 10 years, will show in-vehicle biometrics innovations such as fingerprint-controlled engine start and driver facial recognition.
Delphi will bring along four Audi SQ5 self-driving SUVs that will take passengers on a nearly hour-long drive.
The drive will include urban streets, highways — and tunnels, which are real challenges for GPS-guided devices. The route is a step above the limited demonstrations on city streets that Delphi has offered previously.