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Top 10 Auto Announcements From CES 2019

Of course, some of these announcements provide a glimpse of how we could be traveling in the somewhat distant future. The sheer imagination of these travel solutions can be awe-inspiring.

Other big reveals at CES were for technologies being released this year or next year. These innovations are ready for the market and could change how we get around quite soon. Knowing about these developments will help you stay ahead of possible market trends.

Big Innovations

It used to be the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was all about televisions, home entertainment centres, and smartphones. In the last few years it’s also become a showcase of car technologies. You can see everything from the latest vehicle reveals to glimpses of futuristic concepts, making it a show plenty of people in the auto industry monitor closely.

Technologies like virtual reality are impacting cars of the future

With plenty of buzz around automotive announcements at CES 2019, you might have missed some of the biggest items. Following at the top ten from the show.

Ford and Waze

Whether you have a Ford or not, you’ve probably endured less-than-helpful navigation in a car. That could change, thanks to an announcement from Ford at CES 2019. The auto giant says it’s partnering with Waze, a popular traffic app you might already use on your phone.

That means through the touchscreen on future Fords, you’ll access Waze for better navigation options. In some areas it’s illegal to use a phone while driving, so this will eliminate the risk of getting a citation.

Many people prefer Waze, since it lets you report things like traffic slowdowns, accidents, and other incidents. Using that info, drivers are better able to plan what route to take, shaving valuable time off commuting or other activities. After all, who likes to spend a ton of time in their car?

While not all Fords will feature Waze, many with the Sync 3 infotainment system will. All you need to do is plug the smartphone into a USB port and Waze will project onto the vehicle touchscreen.

Hyundai Elevate

When you think of Hyundai, sensible and affordable vehicles likely come to mind. That’s why that Korean brand’s Elevate concept vehicle was so shocking, because it’s a dramatic departure from that image.

Instead of bringing some electric high-performance car, Hyundai showed off an electrified emergency response vehicle with a twist: it can transform. While it can drive like a regular car, the Elevate has robotic legs that connect the body to the wheels. When the going gets tough, these legs unfold and allow the vehicle to go where it otherwise couldn’t.

Having the ability to walk and not just roll, the Elevate conceivably could reach victims after something like an earthquake, landslide, or tsunami where debris would make roads otherwise impassible. It even has the dexterity to negotiate stairs. Call it the ultimate go-anywhere vehicle, because it could surpass Jeeps in that regard.

On the inside is the kind of equipment you’d see in an ambulance. First responders can reach victims quickly, provide emergency care, and transport them reliably to a hospital. While it looks crazy, this concept shows that there’s still plenty of innovation possible for cars of the future.

Byton M-Byte Reveal

Byton, a startup electric automaker, made a huge splash at CES 2019 by revealing its much-anticipated M-Byte. In reality, the company only did a partial reveal of the electric SUV, choosing to just show off the interior, but it caused a huge stir in the automotive world and beyond.

One of the most exciting details is the 48-inch screen at the top of the dash. It’s massive and unlike anything in a production vehicle today. To put the screen in perspective, seven iPads are the equivalent in size. That means navigation maps you don’t have to squint at, plus plenty of other key information.

The screens don’t end there. Byton also puts one in the M-Byte’s steering wheel. That’s admittedly an odd choice, generating plenty of controversy.

We should see the rest of the Byton M-Byte perhaps in late 2019.

Air Taxi

Instead of treating travel as a two-dimensional plane where we have roads and that’s it, some people keep pushing for going in other directions. While Elon Musk’s Boring Company has decided tunneling into the earth is a good method, others believe flying cars will be helpful in the future. That’s exactly what Bell’s flying taxi concept, called the Nexus, was all about at CES 2019.

While the Bell Nexus looks kind of like a set piece from Tron Legacy, its design could allow for quick commutes in crowded cities when traffic is absolutely snarled. The full-scale prototype is quite large, dwarfing the taxis we know today. Six large rotors extend beyond the box-like fuselage, allowing the taxi to take off and land vertically. That means no runways or big open areas necessary to get this taxi up in the air.

At the heart of the Bell Nexus is a hybrid-electric powertrain, because electrification is pervasive in vehicle concepts these days. The rotors, which are housed in assemblies similar to fans like what you see on drones, can tilt to help with turning in the air. The driver/pilot references three large screens on the dash, allowing for proper operation on the ground or above.

Nissan LEAF Plus

Before Tesla started its series of record-setting runs, the Nissan LEAF was the best-selling electric car in the world. To show it’s still relevant today, Nissan has launched a new generation of the EV. At CES 2019 it revealed the most anticipated version of the car, called the Plus. Among the improvements is more power and greater driving range, making the LEAF that much more practical.

The range increase is about 50 percent, or an estimated 226 miles. That would be attractive to people who are looking for something which won’t leave them stranded or needing to stop for a charge if they have a longer trip planned.

As for power, it’s about 45 percent greater than in the regular LEAF. Torque is excellent at 250 lb.-ft. What that means for consumers is that the car will accelerate faster or with more ease, which is great for driving in city traffic. Nissan also improved acceleration between 80 kph and 120 kph, making it almost 13 percent quicker, for greater confidence when passing on the highway.

Even with the greater battery storage capacity, Nissan designed the LEAF Plus to charge faster. According to the automaker, this new version of the car can charge in about the same time using a 100 kw charger as regular LEAF owners can expect using a 50 kw charger.

What’s especially exciting about the Nissan LEAF Plus at CES 2019 is that the tech is coming to market in the near future.

BMW Camper

In a team-up nobody saw coming, BMW and The North Face put their heads together to dream up a fresh approach to super lightweight campers you can tow with a car, not a truck or SUV. The result is something which looks kind of like a set piece from a science fiction movie, but could actually revolutionize how you camp in the future.

Designed with frigid temperatures in mind, like what we know so very well in Canada, it uses The North Face’s Futurelight fabric. This textile has Nanospinning technology for breathability and waterproofing, which seems like the two wouldn’t go together, but the secret is in the nano-sized holes found uniformly in the fabric.

That revolutionary fabric goes over a geodesic-dome frame, which is on a pair of wheels with a hitch at the other end. Futuristic advancements don’t stop there. A carbon fiber chassis makes the camper lightweight and strong.

Unfortunately, BMW hasn’t showed any intention of actually making this camper for consumers. It’s still a cool concept and could inspire others.

Video Games

Cars have been a fixture of video games for some time, but a new announcement from Audi would take things to the next level. While you can plug in a video game console to a vehicle’s rear entertainment system to play on the move, Audi teamed up with Disney to incorporate a car’s movement in a virtual reality game.

That might sound weird, but this innovation could further eliminate the need for parents to answer for the fifteenth time when the family will arrive at their destination. As a result, long trips and even running short errands could transform from chaos to peaceful experiences.

The forward, backward, and lateral movements of the car are incorporated into the game, so it feels more like you’re interacting with the virtual environment. Instead of just driving to the store, backseat passengers could be helping the Avengers fight enemy aliens in space, flying a ship through the sky, or exploring any number of interesting areas.

LiveWire

Harley Davidson is an icon of the industry.

There’s been considerable concern lately for American motorcycle brand Harley Davidson. Once an icon of rugged individualism, rebellion, and unabashed fun on the road, younger consumers view it as old and backwards. Harley Davidson needs a product to turn that image around, and the reveal of the LiveWire could be it.

This all-electric motorcycle doesn’t make the usual rumbling sound everyone is used to from Harley Davidsons. A design which hearkens to the company’s roots but looks futuristic enough to interest younger shoppers could strike the right mix of old and new. The reveal certainly stirred up considerable interest in the media, including numerous awards from automotive and tech publications. To say this motorcycle is a huge deal would be to downplay its importance.

According to Harley Davidson, the LiveWire is quick. It does 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, outpacing many sports cars by a considerable amount. Top speed is limited to 110 mph, but that’s more than enough to hit the highway. Range is about 110 miles, meaning it’s great for driving around town, but wouldn’t be well-suited for a cross-country trip.

Instead of an analog instrument cluster, Harley Davidson went more modern and have a digital screen riders reference. That means you can customize the layout for a personalized presentation. There’s also an app that allows you to monitor the charging process remotely.

Emotive Riding

Kia Motors decided to leap past the concept of autonomous cars, instead addressing some concerns about the riding experience once such technology becomes commonplace. The Korean automaker teamed up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s Affective Computing group to create what’s called the Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving System.

Basically, this tech uses sensors in the vehicle to read your emotions. From there, the system changes the interior environment to better suit your emotional state. The line of thought is that will in turn improve the experience you have in the car.

This innovation has people talking. While the concept of having your vehicle not only do the driving, but attempting to cheer you up after a bad day sounds great, it’s also strange. Exactly how well such tech works remains to be seen, but it definitely shows Kia is thinking outside the box.

CLA

Mercedes has a history of making amazing cars.

One of the biggest reveals at CES 2019 might be something you don’t immediately identify as very tech-oriented. Mercedes-Benz took the covers off the second-generation 2020 CLA sedan at the show, and it was enough to generate plenty of buzz.

A dramatic design was the first thing everyone noticed. After an extremely successful run with the first generation of the car, Mercedes-Benz decided to make the CLA even sleeker and sportier. That meant giving it more of a fastback layout like the larger CLS, while also injecting some youthful flair from the A-Class lineup.

Of course, any car revealed at CES must be packed with some impressive tech, and the Mercedes-Benz CLA didn’t disappoint. Higher trim levels will feature the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system. That means a large 10.25-inch touchscreen with beautiful graphics. Because the infotainment screen sits right next to the digital instrument cluster, it looks like one big screen stretching across a big portion of the dash. A semi-autonomous drive system makes traveling on the highway less stressful.

While not as practical, the ambient interior lighting system with 64 colors allows drivers to set a whole range of moods. Ten preset configurations called color worlds triggers a complex mixture of colors without any effort on your part.