Automakers Continue to Prioritize Technology Trade Shows and China
Automakers continue to snub mainstream automotive trade shows for CES, which is swiftly becoming one. Compared to Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show, Asia’s nascent tech expo is exceptionally small but that hasn’t prevented automakers from taking an interest. Only in its third year, CES Asia hosted General Motors, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, and Volvo.
In fact, several of the event’s large rooms housed nothing but products stemming from automotive manufacturers — underlining how automakers need to be perceived in 2017. China’s massive population is churning out heaps of new drivers everyday, making it the primary growth market for many global brands. Combine that with the country’s aggressive push into green cars — with a public that is perpetually hungry for tech-laden vehicles — and CES Asia attendance was compulsory for many.
“Chinese growth is rapidly expanding,” Honda’s executive vice president, Seiji Kuraishi, told Automotive News. “Here at CES, there are many Chinese innovations. We want to use that as window for open innovation.”
Honda unveiled a self-driving EV concept commuter called the NeuV, as well as its Uni-Cub personal mobility device.
Mercedes-Benz showcased its S-class Maybach concept with a focus on physical health and mental wellness. The Benz is supposed to create a spa-like experience, providing relaxing fragrances, “hot stone” massage, and a built-in tea ceremony in the rear armrest.
The Buick Velite 5 reappeared sporting a range-extender and upgraded connectivity functions for its OnStar service. General Motors, knowing that China likes Buick and EVs far more than the rest of the world, introduced the Velite 5 as a premium styled Chevrolet Volt back in April.
BMW showed a concept that exemplifies its long-term autonomous driving strategy. It featured a holographic center console, controllable by swiping at floating icons à la Minority Report. Ultrasonic waves provide tactile feedback depending on where your hand moves, making this fledgling technology superior to touch screens in every single way but still inferior to physical buttons.
NEVS, the electric car startup born from Sweden’s failed attempts to resurrect Saab, showed two concepts at CES Asia — a sedan and crossover. Both vehicles will be based on the, now-ancient, Saab 9-3 platform and built in China. NEVS plans to introduce them both in the Eastern market next year before attempting to conquer the rest of the globe.
introduce them both in the Eastern market next year before attempting to conquer the rest of the globe.
“It’s the new way of doing it,” explained the brand’s director of business development Niklas Sondell, “establish ourselves in China and then branch out.”
[Image: CES Asia]
Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.
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