Fun Stuff

CES 2024 Roundup: Automotive Highlights from the World's Largest Tech Show

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is where some of the biggest tech news of the year is announced. More than 4,000 exhibitors are at the show this year, with cutting-edge tech covering nearly every area imaginable. It’s the cars we’re interested in, though, and there were plenty of announcements from automakers ranging from new audio systems to entirely new models. Here are the automotive highlights of CES 2024.

Google Built-In

Google announced updates to Android Auto that would add real-time EV range information to Google Maps. The feature will launch with the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning, showing you the estimated battery level at arrival, suggesting charge stops, and estimating charging times along the way. Volvo EVs and some GM EVs already have this feature, and it’s very helpful because it helps curb range anxiety. It adds predictability, offers more choice, and lets you select your route based on your charge without relying on the car’s built-in navigation system.

Google Built-In, the operating system used by Volvo and GM, among others, is adding the Chrome web browser (for use when parked). The system also adds The Weather Channel app to show you the weather along your route.

Honda EV Concepts

Honda brought two concept cars to debut what it calls the Honda 0 (Zero) Series, a new line of EVs that will launch in 2026. “The mobility we dream of is not an extension of the trend of ‘thick, heavy, but smart’ EVs,” said Toshihiro Mibe, Global CEO of Honda. “We will create a completely new value from zero based on thin, light and wise as the foundation for our new Honda 0 EV series to further advance the joy and freedom of mobility to the next level.”

The concept above with the rectangular nose and gullwing doors is called the Saloon. Its stance is low and wide. Honda says a vehicle based on this concept will arrive in 2026, and it marks not just a new era for Honda electrification, but its styling is nothing like what we've seen from the brand so far.

The chunkier concept is called the Space-Hub. Honda didn’t mention if we’d see something in production based on this one, but it might preview what an Odyssey minivan might look like in the future.

Honda 0 Series models will get the company’s most advanced autonomous driving features. They will also have new e-Axles that the company says will deliver high levels of power and efficiency, along with a battery that Honda says will not degrade more than 10 per cent after 10 years of use.

Hyundai All-In on Hydrogen

Hyundai presented its vision for hydrogen-powered vehicles including passenger vehicles and heavy trucks going forward. The brand remains heavily invested in the tech and plans to develop new large-scale green hydrogen production solutions. It is also concentrating on tech that can deliver hydrogen for vehicles from organic waste (including manure) as well as from melting waste plastics.

The company said it expects to have vehicles using 3 million tonnes of hydrogen per year by 2035, enough to drive a passenger vehicle 3 billion km. For reference, passenger vehicle traffic in Canada is approximately 333 billion km per year.

Kia Shows Electric Vans

Kia brought a series of concepts for a future commercial electric van. The Platform Beyond Vehicle concepts offer innovative features like vehicle bodies that can be removed and swapped out quickly. Kia suggests that you could use the van for a taxi by day, a delivery van by night, and a camper on the weekend. Kia emphasized software in the concepts, with the goal of improved charge management and better fleet management. The first planned for production is the PV5, the second largest of the four, built at a new plant capable of handling 150,000 units per year.

Lamborghini Performance Biometrics

The Lamborghini Telemetry X concept is in-car tech meant to make you a better driver on track. It captures your biometric data for performance monitoring to help you train off the track and monitors your lap times, lines, and pedal performance to help make you faster. Lamborghini says the system offers proactive voice assistance in the vehicle to help you brake and turn at the right spot.

Mercedes Debuts New Infotainment System

Mercedes-Benz announced that its new MB.OS system, first announced two years ago, will make it into vehicles soon. It will offer an AI virtual assistant that Benz says will “create an even more natural and intuitive relationship with the car.” The company says the system will allow more natural interaction with the car’s voice command system. It will also include enhanced 3D graphics for the navigation system that can show the driver hazards around the road. More apps will be added, including games, streaming, and even food-ordering apps.

In collaboration with Amazon Music and Audible, Benz will add Dolby Atmos to its Burmester audio systems. Benz says Atmos audio, used in movie theatres to provide a more immersive experience, should do the same for in-car listeners. “Immersive audio storytelling enables our customers to benefit fully from the advanced sound technology in our vehicles. For us, unparalleled in-car entertainment is a further dimension of the hyper-personalized user experience,” said Mercedes-Benz CTO Markus Schäfer.

VinFast Shows Cute EV and Wild Pickup Concept

Electric startup VinFast Auto brought a pair of concepts including the minicar VF 3 and the VF wild pickup concept.

The VF 3 is on sale now in Vietnam and is making its debut for the rest of the world – though there are no details on Canadian availability. It’s small, about half a metre shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage, and offers an estimated 202 km of range, which isn’t bad considering the $15k price tag in its home country.

VinFast’s first pickup, the VF Wild, is likely to be much more relevant to Canadians if it makes it to market. The Wild is about the size of a Honda Ridgeline, but powered by electricity. It offers a flexible bed with a midgate (the new EV pickup hot ticket) that lets you extend the bed by using the back seats of the cab, and it has clamshell doors like the best early 2000s trucks. It’s still just a concept, though, with no announcements of any production plans.

Volkswagen's New AI Assistant

Volkswagen announced a new digital assistant called IDA, based on ChatGPT AI. VW says it will control infotainment including navigation as well as climate control. It can also answer general knowledge questions and have a conversation with you. The refreshed Golf will get the feature, along with the ID.3, 4, 5, and ID.7 models, as well as the new Tiguan, with arrivals starting in 2024.

VW also showed off the refreshed Golf GTI. Though the hot hatch was masked by camouflage, we can see some of the detailing including new head and tail lights.