The year kickstarted with the much-awaited CES 2024 that more than lived up to its reputation of being a showcase for breakthrough technology. From artificial intelligence to autonomous driving, electrification to micromobility, sustainability to sensors, established automakers to startups, concepts for road, air, and marine transportation – it was all there. Here are our top takeaways from the event:
Honda Uncorks the 0 Series
Japanese automaker Honda highlighted its commitment to next-generation electric vehicles (EVs) with the premiere of two new global EV concept models – the “Honda 0 Series” – as well as a new “H” mark. The Saloon, the flagship concept model of the Honda 0 Series, reinforces Honda’s new “Thin, Light, and Wise” approach to EV development. Other standouts in this sports coupe included its dedicated EV architecture, sporty styling including gull-wing doors, use of sustainable materials both for interior and exterior, and an intelligent instrument panel with sophisticated human-machine interface (HMI) for seamless UI. The Space-Hub, a futuristic minivan, has been envisaged as a “hub” with that “connects people to people and people to society.” This probably explained its generously proportioned interiors. Also developed with the “Thin, Light, and Wise” philosophy, a unique feature is its panoramic, transparent roof. The Honda 0 series is set for launch in 2026, beginning with the North American market.
Hyundai Does the Crab Walk
Hyundai was in the spotlight with its parts and services division, Hyundai Mobis’ concept, Mobion. The Mobion “crab walking” concept, demonstrated on an Ioniq 5 EV, featured the company’s in-wheel motor technology and e-corner drive system. For those challenged by tight parking spaces and parallel parking, the in-wheel driving system offered four independent systems, i.e., electric motor, steering, braking, and suspension, on each individual wheel. This means the ability to rotate each wheel 90 degrees, realize a complete 360 degrees around its mid axis, and demonstrate outstanding articulation, while enabling exceptional lateral and diagonal movements, easy pivot turns, and enhanced maneuverability.
Mercedes-Benz Amps Up its Digital Features
Mercedes amped up its digital game with its comprehensive infotainment system taken to the next level with an intelligent, AI powered, personal assistant – the MBUX Virtual Assistant. Leveraging, generative AI and advanced 3D graphics, the MBUX Virtual Assistant which runs on the automaker’s proprietary Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS), is designed to enable more natural and empathetic interactions. The overarching idea is to create an immersive, intuitive, and hyper personalized experience for vehicle occupants. Interestingly, the MBUX Sound Drive, developed in collaboration with musician will.i.am., remixes songs based on vehicle inputs related to steering, acceleration and braking to create a “ground-breaking interactive music experience”.
AI Everywhere, All at Once
AI was the buzzword in 2023, particularly with generative AI and ChatGPT. The BMW-Amazon collaboration was conceived with a view to developing a customized, in-vehicle voice assistant powered by generative AI, particularly Alexa’s Large Language Model (LLM). At CES 2024, the partners revealed the capabilities of an in-vehicle voice assistant, which centers on providing instant information about various vehicle related functions like ADAS or infotainment. It allows voice commands to control music or drive settings, while helping drivers familiarize themselves with their new cars in a conversational and “more natural way”.
Volkswagen also hopped onto the generative AI and LLM wagon, with its assertion that it would be integrating AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT with its IDA voice assistant. Cerence Chat Pro from its technology partner Cerence Inc. will facilitate intelligent, automotive-grade ChatGPT integration. Easy to deploy and use, the Cerence Chat Pro seamlessly integrates with the in-car assistant to provide information on a wide range of topics. Volkswagen has declared its intention of becoming the first mass vehicle manufacturer to offer Chat GPT as a standard feature on some of its models from Q2, 2024.
Mobileye Announces a Major Production Design Win
Self-driving car technology company Mobileye unveiled its new Driving Experience Platform (DXP) operating system that allows automakers to customize their driving experience. The company also announced a series of production design wins for its three key platforms from a leading Western automaker: the Mobileye SuperVision™, Mobileye Chauffeur™ and Mobileye Drive™ are set to power 17 models across multiple brands, geographies, and powertrains. In other collaborative endeavors, Chinese automaker Chery will be introducing Mobileye’s cloud-enhanced ADAS on its Exeed VX model, while an expanded collaboration with Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra that includes SuperVision™ is on the anvil.
Hydrogen is Back, and How
For a while, it seemed like the hype around hydrogen and fuel cells had been overstated. But by all accounts, hydrogen is here to stay. At CES 2024, trucking startup Nikola unveiled a market ready, hydrogen-powered truck. Truck manufacturer PACCAR spotlighted next-gen hydrogen fuel cell technology developed in partnership with Toyota Motor Company North America in its Kenworth’s T680 truck. The technology is also incorporated in PACCAR’s Peterbilt Model 579 Class 8 trucks. Hydrogen fuel cell supplier Bosch Mobility stated that it would be introducing a hydrogen combustion engine later this year. Hyundai was bullish on hydrogen which the company sees as playing a “prominent role” in helping it transform into a carbon-neutral company by 2050. It detailed a vision that encompassed “an entire hydrogen energy ecosystem” over the long-term and commercialization of green hydrogen production technologies over the shorter term.
PBVs Reign at Kia
Kia spotlighted a trio of modular electric vans for commercial purposes. The Platform Beyond Vehicle concepts – PV1 for urban optimized mobility; PV5, a people mover and mobile workshop; and PV7, a cargo delivery and multi van – are built on a common modular platform for global markets. They are envisaged as being highly customizable for varied mobility needs in urban settings. Accordingly, they can be tailored to meet commercial mobility demands whether for passenger or cargo, long-distance or last mile, pop up store or food truck. The PV5 is slated for market launch in 2025.
All Eyes on Electrification
Electrification continued unabated, underlining the fact that EVs are going mainstream and consumers are increasingly ready to consider purchasing them as replacements for ICEs. Vietnam’s VinFast Auto used CES to launch the VF 3, an electric mini-SUV, the VF 3, the ‘VF Wild’, an electric pick-up truck, and the ‘DrgnFly’, an electric bike. Turkish car manufacturer, Togg, showcased its new sedan model T10F, and targets a delivery of one million units to Europe by 2030.
Electrification was the theme among two-wheelers as well with Segway’s electric scooter offerings, the E2 Pro and Superscooter ST1 and its electric bike offerings, including the Segway Xafari and the Segway Xyber. Finland’s Verge Motorcycles displayed its electric motorcycle, the Verge TS Ultra, with over 201 horsepower.
New Auto Tech from Harman
Harman wheeled out a range of automotive tech products including the Ready Care System, an in-cabin monitoring offering that measures a driver’s visual and cognitive load in real-time. It improves safety by identifying potential distractions or compromised driving behaviors and follows this up with targeted intervention strategies. The Ready Vision QVUE delivers information on key parameters like speed or mileage, while reducing driver distraction. The Ready Vision AR HUD enhances situational awareness by providing 3D navigation and visuals on hazards and traffic in real time. SeatSonic represents a novel alternative to conventional in-cabin audio system architecture wherein audio speakers are shifted into seats to support a personalized, high quality audio experience.
While the US Big Three, Stellantis, Ford and GM, were conspicuous by their absence, they were hardly missed amidst the barrage of cutting-edge technology offerings. From dazzling concepts to production ready vehicles, from AI to electrification, CES 2024 gave us a glimpse into the possibilities of a highly interconnected, digitally driven future.
With inputs from Amrita Shetty, Senior Manager – Communications & Content, Mobility