The 10 Best at CES 2016 Cars
Every year a new reality emerges at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and 2016 was no exception. It was a particularly banner year for the future of mobility. Electric vehicles went mass market. Rear-view mirrors became obsolete. And self-driving cars took another big step toward the here and now. In fact, there were more new transportation concepts and innovative automotive technologies on display than ever before. Here are but a few of the most notable.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Capable and affordable, the handsome Bolt is an electric car for the masses, says Chevrolet. Compared with the Nissan Leaf, the Bolt EV rolls twice as far (200 miles) on a charge, offers more interior space and packs more tech for approximately the same price (about $30,000 in the US, after a $7,500 Federal tax credit). We’ll see how it compares with Tesla’s Model 3, which is scheduled to be unveiled this spring. Until then, the Bolt sets a new benchmark for EVs.
Faraday Future FFZERO1
While the Bolt is the practical man’s electric vehicle, the FFZERO1 is for the extremist. This slick-looking single-seat racer was put together in only three months by FF’s Head of Design Richard Kim and his team to serve as an example of what can built atop the fledgling automaker’s all-new scalable vehicle architecture. Though Kim says the FFZERO1 will not be Faraday’s first production car, he does admit that its sci-fi features “hint at the look of coming production models.”
Hippies rejoice: VW has electrified your beloved Microbus and, in the process, provided the rest of us with a glimpse into the future of the manufacturer’s electrification program. Though Volkswagen didn’t say much about the BUDD-e’s propulsion system, it will be configured like the Tesla Model S, with electric motors at the front and rear axles and a battery pack in between. The range on a full charge is 233 miles and top speed is a swift 93mph. While the Micro bus physique was meant to pull on the heartstrings of tech-impaired empty nesters, the BUDD-e boasts the latest bells and whistles. For example, all systems can be controlled through touchscreens, voice commands or gestures, from turning on the heat to opening the side doors.
Kia jumped into the driver less-car fray by unveiling its new line of Drive Wise autonomous driving technologies. The systems, which include urban and highway modes, use a combination of radar, camera, GPS and ultrasonic sensors to negotiate lane-changing and overtaking on highways or to navigate busy city environments without input from the driver. Also on display was the I-Cockpit concept, which previewed the automaker’s next-generation human-machine interface technologies, including gesture control and a touch pad that automatically recognizes driver preferences based on a fingerprint swipe. Kia hopes to bring partially autonomous vehicles to market by 2020 and completely driver-less cars by 2030.
The real must-have gadget from CES, the EHang 184 is part drone, part personal helicopter. This car-sized electric quad copter can carry a single occupant up to 10 miles with almost no guidance. The passenger inputs the destination via a mobile app, and the 184 autonomously handles the rest. According to the company, it can fly for about 23 minutes on a full charge, at speeds up to 62 mph. Sadly, it’s not legal in the US.
The human-machine interface was a hot topic in Sin City this year, as many automakers and automotive systems suppliers showed off gesture-control and eye-tracking technologies designed to reduce driver distraction. BMW’s second-generation gesture control system, Air Touch 3D, in the i Vision Future Interaction concept car, was one of the more impressive technologies being developed. With it, you can control the car’s in-dash screen just like a touchscreen without ever actually touching it.
BMW Motorrad Vision Head-Up Display
Although BMW’s four-wheeled innovations took center stage at CES, the company’s motorcycle division had some clever kit at the show, as well, including a helmet with a built-in heads-up display. Similar to the Skully AR-1, BMW’s Vision helmet places a transparent display over the rider’s right eye, onto which is projected a host of basic data, including speed, fuel level, navigation and road-hazard alerts. The display can also serve as a closed-circuit rear-view feed, eliminating the need to glance at the side mirror. The company says the helmet should be production ready within a few years.
With Amazon connection, Ford’s Sync comes home
Another emerging trend at this year’s CES involved enhancing the communication between your car and home. One of the more accessible solutions is the result of a collaboration between Ford and Amazon. It involves linking Ford’s Sync infotainment system with the online retail giant’s Echo smart home hub. Using voice commands, Sync users can, say, open a garage door, access their home’s thermostat or turn on an outside light from miles away. Vice versa, through Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, users will be able to stop, start, lock, unlock and check their vehicle’s fuel range from the comfort of home.
Good sound quality is sorely underrated. And Grace note knows it. That’s why the company has created a new layer of technology, an algorithm, to analyze every song you play, and then automatically adjust your car stereo’s equalizer settings to optimize the aural quality of the playback. By customizing EQ settings down to the track level every song sounds like the artist meant it to be heard.