Welcome back to the latest episode of The Future of Automotive on CBT News, where we put recent automotive and mobility news into the context of the broader themes impacting the industry.
I’m Steve Greenfield from Automotive Ventures, and I’m glad that you could join us.
This was a big week out in Las Vegas, as over one hundred thousand people descended on the city to experience CES 2024.
CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, ran the whole week, from January 9th to 12th.
If you thought NADA was big, CES is a much bigger show. The 2020 show, which ran just prior to the Covid shutdown, hosted 171,000 attendees. Attendance figures dwindled in subsequent years, but 2023 found the show hitting a respectable 115,000.
This year, CES was expected to host approximately 130,000 attendees and 4,000 exhibitors, which includes more than 300 mobility-related companies.
Unlike smaller conventions in Las Vegas, CES fills all of the halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center plus overflows across 10 hotels. So, planning ahead is important if you’re going to prioritize the booths you want to visit.
A big part of CES’s evolution over the past few years has been its evolution into a major automotive show. This makes a lot of sense, given how technology is increasingly interwoven into the automotive industry.
Automakers typically take the opportunity for a sizable presence at CES, but this year showed a more muted presence by the large car companies. For example, Ford, General Motors, Stellantis and Toyota decided not to exhibit.
While sad, the lack of some of the larger automakers left much more opportunity for the remainder to stand out.
The new West Hall is where the big automotive players exhibit. The theme in this hall was “Vehicle Tech & Advanced Mobility” – where we saw large vendor displays from Hyundai, Kia, VinFast, John Deere, Caterpillar, Magna and Amazon Automotive.
Honda debuted an all-new global electric-vehicle series and showcase key technologies. This included the Honda Saloon concept car, which harkens back to some of the supercars from the 1980s, and Honda Space-Hub, which looked more like a futuristic minivan. Honda said it will introduce 30 new EVs by 2030, a number that includes both battery-electric and fuel-cell-powered products.
Separately, Afeela, the brand created by a Sony-Honda joint venture, exhibit its latest vehicle prototype with a lot of new technology announcements.
The map of the Convention Center’s West Hall reveals that Hyundai has the largest footprint. The company shared a number of developments related to hydrogen fuel cells and their software-defined vehicle technology.
In addition, Hyundai’ Supernal subsidiary unveiled a product concept for its eVTOL aircraft and demonstrated its associated vertiport.
Vietnamese automaker VinFast, who recently announced they expect to have 125 franchised dealers as part of an initial rollout and then hundreds by the end of 2024 throughout the U.S., presented two vehicles at CES that could be coming to U.S. dealerships within a couple of years: an impressive electric pickup concept called the “VF Wild” and the VF 3 microcar that could sell for under $20,000.
The VinFast pickup looks a little like a Hummer from the front, and a Tesla CyberTruck from the back.
Electric vehicle and charging news made a splash at the 2023 CES tech show. But their presence this year mirrors what’s going on in the automotive market — a bit of an EV growth slowdown. This year, EV announcements were much more subdued than at last year’s show. In fact, major charging companies such as EVgo, ChargePoint and Electrify America didn’t bother to exhibit or break news at the show.
Looking over the exhibit hall space, Autonomous (self-driving) technology no longer seems to be an auto industry obsession. Problems at GM subsidiary Cruise highlighted a troublesome 2023 for robotaxis in particular. Ford announced last year that it would move away from fully autonomous tech. Both Ford and GM took huge losses on automated tech last year. Unlike previous CES expos, we saw very few self-driving demonstrations onsite.
Having said that, a number of companies were showing off how using AI inside vehicles is making them smoother and safer for drivers through better in-vehicle virtual assistants and cabin monitors.
Beyond the automakers, Tier 1 automotive suppliers use CES to showcase cutting-edge technologies. We saw new offerings from companies such as Qualcomm, Mobileye, Bosch, Magna and others.
On the back of their announcement with Hyundai, the Amazon Automotive booth appeared to be one of the busiest at the show.
The North Hall hosted a number of smaller vendors in the Vehicle Tech & Advanced Mobility theme and was also worth checking out.
But, by no means were the automotive and mobility innovations limited to just these locations. For example, the new Honda-Sony JV vehicle named the Afeela was showcased in the Central Hall.
In recent years, CES has become much more focused on startups. I believe that the earlier-stage companies in the smaller booths at the Venetian Expo made up the best part of the show. The Venetian Expo hosts a number of interesting sections, including the “Innovations Showcase” and “Country Pavilions.”
Finally, I had the chance to be up on stage twice on Monday this week, both sessions being at the Connected2Car Conference. I kicked off the conference with a keynote on the state of vehicle electrification, and then I had a chance to moderate a panel on the evolution of the dealership sales channel, with panelists Mike Stanton from NADA, Jeremy Beaver from DGDG, Beth Hill from Ford Direct and Jessica Stafford from Cox Automotive.
CES is the premier conference for new technologies and has become a major conference for breaking news in the automotive and mobility industries. It was great to be out there this week, and I’ll be excited to be back at next year’s show.
Companies to Watch
So, with that, let’s transition to Our Companies to Watch.
Every week we highlight interesting companies in the automotive technology space to keep an eye on. If you read my weekly Intel Report, we showcase a company to watch, and we take the opportunity here on this segment to share that company with you.
Today, our new company to watch is EyeGauge.
EyeGauge works in the marine space and aims to make any ship smart without changing anything.
EyeGauge is driving the digitalization of the Maritime Transportation.
The company helps to digitize processes aboard ships, allowing operators to collect data, share data and act on data.
EyeGauge measures ship performance, fuel consumption and condition; they create transparency between owners, charterers and report on emissions; and they focus on improving safety and complying with regulations, while at the same time reducing the boat’s carbon footprint.
Ship recycling is an expensive process with a heavy environmental impact. The company helps prolong the life of maritime assets of any age through non-invasive digitalization, condition monitoring and anomaly detection.
If you’d like to learn more about EyeGauge, you can check them out at www.eye-gauge.com/
So that’s it for this week’s Future of Automotive segment.
If you’re an AutoTech entrepreneur working on a solution that helps car dealerships, we want to hear from you. We are actively investing out of our new DealerFund.
If you’re interested in joining our Investment Club to make direct investments into AutoTech and Mobility startups, please join. There is no obligation to start seeing our deal flow, and we continue to have attractive investment deals available to our members.
Don’t forget to check out my book, The Future of Automotive Retail, which is available on Amazon.com. And keep an eye out for my new book, “The Future of Mobility”, which is almost done, and will be out early this year.
Thanks (as always) for your ongoing support, and we look forward to working closely together with you to create the future of this industry.
Thank you for tuning into CBT News for this week’s Future of Automotive segment, and we’ll see you next week!