I was able to attend CES this year — the most influential tech event in the world — the proving ground for breakthrough technologies and global innovators. This is where the world’s biggest brands do business and meet new partners, and the sharpest innovators hit the stage.
Interestingly, over the years it has become “January’s auto show,” an event that has become far more exciting than many auto shows of the traditional variety because innovative technology is unveiled along with new cars and trucks. Despite the resurgence of a new mutation of COVID-19, this year’s version of CES pushed forward with a hybrid live/online structure that allowed major automakers to present their latest vehicles and technology to kick off 2022.
This year, EVs (electric vehicles) and autonomous technologies were front and center of the discussion, with several major unveilings.
Chevy currently offers the Bolt and Bolt EUV electric vehicles, but it’s about to release what could be its most popular EV yet: The Silverado EV. The full-size pickup truck is the perfect rival to the Ford F-150 Lightning. But unlike the F-150, the Chevy Silverado EV is based on a new EV platform, giving it a completely different look than the internal-combustion Silverado.
At launch, the Silverado EV will be available in two configurations: An RST First Edition and a fleet-oriented WT model. The Silverado EV will offer a GM-estimated 400-mile range on a full charge along with 10.2 kW of offboard power, available four-wheel steering, a fixed-glass roof, and a 17” diagonal LCD infotainment screen. The 2024 Silverado EV wasn’t the only Chevy EV in the news at CES; Chevy also released the first photos of the Equinox EV, an electric version of the compact crossover.
The 2024 Equinox EV will have a driving range of around 300 miles and Chevrolet is targeting a starting price of around $30,000. The Equinox EV will arrive in fall 2023, which will then be joined by a new Blazer EV as well.
Chevy wasn’t the only brand under the General Motors umbrella to make a splash at CES. Cadillac also showed off its latest concept, the InnerSpace. The automaker is going to release the new Lyriq electric crossover later this year, but with the InnerSpace concept, it is showing off how it envisions a future self-driving two-person EV.
The autonomous Cadillac InnerSpace concept is based on GM’s Ultium platform, which is also used by the Chevy Silverado EV and GM spinoff BrightDrop for its last-mile vans. Unlike today’s EVs which have their battery packs placed on the floor of the vehicle, the InnerSpace concept’s wireless battery management system allows the battery modules to be spread across various spots in the vehicle.
This gave the designers even more freedom to give the InnerSpace a low floor and spacious interior for two. Inside the interior looks as comfortable as any living room with its reclining seats and panoramic LED display. The InnerSpace concept also features augmented reality, entertainment, and “Wellness Recovery” themes on the screen.
Sony boosted its entrance into the EV landscape by unveiling its SUV prototype, the VISION-S 02. The Vision-S 02 crossover SUV is a follow up to the Vision-S sedan concept Sony presented at CES two years ago. While Sony hasn’t confirmed that either vehicle is production-bound, the company is strongly suggesting it will.
Sony has been testing a prototype of the Vision-S sedan, and during its CES presentation Wednesday the company said it will establish a new division called Sony Mobility this spring focusing specifically on EV development.
The company didn’t discuss mechanical details, but the Vision-S sedan used portions of a platform from automotive supplier Magna-Steyr, which is supplying a platform and contract manufacturing for the Fisker Ocean. According to Sony, the Vision-S sedan had a 268-horsepower motor at each axle, allowing for 0-60 mph in under 5.0 seconds.
Front-seat occupants get a large panoramic screen, and there are smaller individual screens in the rear rows as well. Like the Vision-S, the crossover concept has cloud connectivity and 5G compatibility, as well as over-the-air update capability. Remote operation might even be possible in the future, according to Sony.
Chrysler gave a look at its future EV lineup with the Airflow Vision concept, which might preview a production model that will arrive by 2025.
The Airflow Vision concept is an electric crossover that is based on a new EV platform, which would rival the Ford Mustang Mach-E. The big news is that the Airflow Vision is powered by two electric motors and has a driving range between 350-400 miles. Chrysler will not confirm if it plans to build the Airflow Vision concept, but it did announce that the brand will become fully electric by 2028.
If you’ve ever purchased a car but had second thoughts about the color you picked, BMW has the EV for you. The German automaker showed off its new color-changing paint technology that shares more in common with a Kindle than you’d think at first glance. Relying on E Ink, the electronic paper technology used in e-readers, and the old Pebble watch, the color-changing paint technology is making its debut on a concept version of the BMW iX Flow.
The surface coating of the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink contains many millions of microcapsules, with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair. Each of these microcapsules contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Depending on the chosen setting, stimulation by means of an electrical field causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.
The color-changing EV is a high-end electric sports vehicle with over 500hp and over 300 miles of range to match. Just don’t expect to see this at your local BMW dealership anytime soon: BMW says this is just an “advanced research and design project” at the moment. But stay tuned…
Vietnamese auto startup VinFast introduced three new battery-electric vehicles. The rollout followed the debut of two other all-electric models at the Los Angeles Auto Show just two months earlier. The first of the five battery-electric vehicles will go on sale in the U.S., Canada and Europe later this year. The automaker plans to set up a factory in the U.S. that will have the capacity to produce as many as 250,000 electric vehicles annually by mid-decade, according to VinFast.
The automaker is taking a novel approach to marketing its BEVs: Customers will purchase the actual vehicles, but the battery packs will be leased, and customers will have several package options to choose from. VinFast states that even with the electricity required to charge up, they’ll cost less than what a buyer would spend for gasoline in a conventional vehicle. The company will also warranty the vehicles for ten years and replace any battery that falls below 70% of its original capacity.
Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) ELMS used the show to talk about the all-electric vans that it’s currently building in Mishawaka, Indiana. Its Urban Delivery electric van has 110 miles of range and a starting price of around $34,000 before any tax incentives.
ELMS focuses on offering solid, affordable commercial vehicles focusing on extreme affordability as opposed to extreme technology. The Urban Delivery van is tailor made for painters, couriers and other businesses in need of long-lasting, workhorse vehicles, so don’t expect this hauler to feature Nappa leather, an adaptive suspension system or ventilated seats.
Pickup EVs Are the Future
Here’s what we know: Pickups are the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. and electric versions of most of them will be available in the not-too-distant future. If there is any EV that could reach the broader market in middle America, it’s a pickup.
CES has always been on the fringes of auto-show culture, but over the past few years, automakers have steadily given increased priority to Las Vegas in January. Despite some setbacks for the show in 2022, the event continued, and the result could qualify as the best auto show in years. 2023 promises to be even better.