Boasting big names such as Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes and Toyota, the annual International CES convention is increasingly becoming a major auto show. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the enormous consumer tech show each year, the floor space taken by automotive companies in 2014 has increased by 25 percent over last year’s show.
According to the CEA, at least 17 percent of U.S. households currently own a vehicle with some kind of connected system such as OnStar or Ford Sync. The industry group expects sales of in-vehicle technologies to grow by nearly 20 percent in 2014, to $11 billion.
Audi will take centerstage at CES, with the firm’s chairman, Rupert Stadler, delivering one of the show’s main keynote addresses. In his remarks, Stadler is expected to expand on some of the themes that emerged from last year’s CES examination of the auto industry, such as the potential of increased connectivity behind the wheel and the potential for driverless cars.
Of course, Audi will also have something new at the show: the debut of a new concept car. The Audi Sport quattro laserlight will make its world premiere at the technology show and — as the name suggests — is notable because it has laser headlights.
In a news release, the German car company said that the laser headlights “leave all previous systems in the dark with its higher performance” and that the car itself also has state-of-the art display and operating system technology.
“We are showing the future of Audi here,” said Ulrich Hackenberg, an Audi board member responsible for the firm’s technical development, in a statement.
But Audi won’t be the only firm showing off a new model at the show. Ford, is debuting a high-tech ride of its own: a solar hybrid concept car, called the C-Max Solar Energi. The car runs on a combination of gas and electric power, with a range of 620 miles. According to Ford, 21 of those miles can be completely electric. In a statement, the company boasted that this is a first-of-its-kind vehicle that allows drivers to have an electric car without relying on the power grid.
“Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept shines a new light on electric transportation and renewable energy,” said Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, in a statement.
Over 125 auto technology firms will be exhibiting at the show this year, according to the CEA.
Mazda joined the list of new exhibitors this year, showing off its “Mazda Connect” system, which incorporates smartphone-like features into its vehicles. It’s also going to show off an application platform for its vehicles to expand the kinds of features it can build into its intelligent cars.
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