New, younger car buyers are demanding the technology that they are used to using in their smartphone

Las Vegas – The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) staged here is the world’s largest trade show.

Traditionally it has been the place to showcase new, exciting technologies such as curved televisions, virtual reality goggles, 3-D printers and anything with the name “smart” in it. Smart fridges with huge screens on the door to smart home electronics systems that can pre-heat or cool your home, all from you, you guessed it…your smartphone.

CES also runs a week before the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Of the two shows, the Vegas show is gaining in importance to the auto industry because the new, younger car buyers are demanding the technology that they are used to using in their smartphone. But CES is also about showcasing technology that we will all be using one day.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

The Chevrolet Bolt concept was first shown last year at NAIAS but the full-blown production car was unveiled here in the desert by none other than GM’s chairwoman Mary Barra.  This is a full electric compact hatchback that will go into production by the end of 2016.

Though final details remain unconfirmed, it is known that the Bolt will take a full charge overnight and be able to run up to 320 km before the need to plug it in again. In addition, the Bolt will be able to charge eighty percent of its battery in half an hour when plugged into a high voltage charger.

For driver’s used to using a tablet, there will be a 25cm screen in the centre of the dash that can be split into two different zones for unique readouts. The Bolt will come standard with Android Auto and Apple Car Play for seamless smartphone integration.

The price has not been finalized but GM expects the Bolt to start at US$37,000, so expect to pay more in Canada.

Faraday FF Zero1
Faraday FF Zero1

There were huge crowds around the latest entry into the all-electric car race, Faraday Future.  This brand new company wants to change the way we think about electric cars (hello Tesla) and to do so it rolled out a concept called FF Zero1.

This 1000hp electric superhero machine has a single seat and a bubble canopy. The crowds around the car were enormous but it doesn’t mask the fact that Faraday Future hasn’t actually made a production car.

It claims that they will be challenging everything we know about transportation but proof is in the details. This California based Car Company, with funding from China is hinting at an electric SUV to come soon, but as we have witnessed from Tesla and its teething problems, I’ll believe it when I see it, let alone drive it!

Toyota Kikai concept
Toyota Kikai concept

The car that caught my eye was the Toyota Kikai concept that was making its North American debut.

The wonderful thing about this futuristic car is that it has many design elements from cars of the past. The suspension, engine and structure of the Kikai are exposed, kind of like hotrods from the 1950s.

The futuristic part of the car is the seamless way it all comes together and beautifully crafted. Inside the driver sits in the middle of the car with two passengers, one either side of the centre seat. This provides transportation for three people in a limited space, plus the side passengers get an amazing amount of legroom.

VW Budd-e electric concept van
VW Budd-e electric concept van

Volkswagen showcased a diesel car.  Kidding!  No, they showcased a concept van called Budd-e. With intuitive connection between the vehicle, the driver and the world of things, this van promises to be your buddy or Budd-e.

The Budd-e will be able to detect hand gestures to change controls inside the car, no need for knobs or dials. In addition, the driver only needs to say “hello Budd-e”, the same way Android users can say “Okay Google” to access things on a smartphone. Using these commands, the driver can use the connected van to change other connected devices inside and outside of the van. For example, the driver can tell Budd-e to set the air conditioning at home before the vehicle arrives.

In addition, VW claims that this van is all electric and capable of running up to 500km on a single charge. The body is built on VW’s modular architecture, so it could actually be put into production…someday.

Audi e-tron electric vehicle

Audi e-tron electric vehicle

VW’s cousin brand Audi showed the e-tron electric vehicle, soon to be built on the new Audio Q6 platform. This car is confirmed for the 2018 model year. This is a mid-sized crossover vehicle that will challenge the Tesla Model X for luxury buyer’s attention.

With 500km of pure electric range and 496hp going to all four wheels, this e-tron will be the first all-electric SUV from a German manufacturer. What Audi displayed was the futuristic interior that will include an amazing array of screen and touch sensitive feedback through track pads to operate the functions of the car.
zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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