by Robert Acquaotta, SVP Integrated Media
Today was a chance to spend some focused time in the North Hall of the convention center and see what’s new in the area of automotive and related products.
DAY THREE TAKEAWAYS:
Amazon’s Relentless Push to Make Alexa Ubiquitous
Amazon has continued to benefit at CES from hundreds of brands and devices touting “works with Alexa”. At this year’s show, Amazon touted the brands. In a dedicated Amazon-branded ballroom at the Venetian, Amazon showcased a variety of products in simulated home living area settings to show use cases for audio commands. (For the record, Amazon claims there are more than 100,000 Alexa-compatible smart home products in the market from more than 9,500 unique brands.)
At the convention center, Amazon had space dedicated specifically to showcase their partners in automotive. Cadillac and Rivian vehicles were on display to demo Alexa integrations. The Rivian all-electric truck featured streamlined commands (“Alexa – left side” popped open an access door/seat on the left side of the truck.) These brand’s vehicle integrations will be available to consumers later in 2020. Alexa is already available in vehicles from Audi, BMW, Ford and Toyota, and will be rolling out in vehicles from General Motors and Volkswagen later this year.
Elsewhere at the show (in at least two places we saw) was a Lamborghini Huracan Evo in screaming orange announcing in-car control via Alexa, allowing drivers to adjust functions like climate, interior lighting and seat heating with simple voice commands. This most likely is the most expensive product yet that “works with Alexa.”
Another interesting Alexa integration is Amazon’s partnership with Exxon. While in their car, consumers can use any Alexa-enabled device to direct Alexa to pay for gas. Amazon uses geo-location to confirm where your vehicle is, and Alexa confirms the location and pump number. After fueling, the cost will be billed via your Amazon account. The pilot program rolls out later this year in 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations.
When we see that screaming orange Lamborghini Huracan Evo with full in-car control by Amazon Alexa pull in front of us at the local Exxon, and overhear the driver say: “Alexa pay for gas”, we can officially declare that Alexa is ubiquitous.
Hyundai’s Vision of Mobility
After strolling through the Mercedes display which featured a sleek new concept, it was initially a shock to see that Hyundai was the very next booth just steps away (auto shows tend to cluster brands together by price point.) That initial shock changed to awe at Hyundai’s sprawling vision of the future of mobility, the centerpiece of which was a giant Hyundai flying Uber (see below).
The Hyundai S-A1 is a flying car that accommodates 4 passengers and a pilot. There are multiple rotors for safety to provide multi-layer redundancy (if one fails, the others can support the load). These flying cars can serve urban and rural areas.
Along with air mobility, Hyundai also envisions a vehicle that can provide humans easy access to Urban Air Mobility. This vehicle, the S-Link, is a PBV (purpose-built vehicle) that they hope will become as iconic in cities as San Francisco’s cable cars. That might explain the shape, which essentially looks like a mostly glass rectangular box.
And lastly, Hyundai envisions a hub that pulls these elements together to link humans to mobility. Engadget edited the full press conference unveiling these concepts down to just seven short minutes. If any of this intrigues you, it’s worth a look. (You can find it here)
Bridgestone Non-Pneumatic Tires
Non-pneumatic tires are not something I’ve ever stumbled across before, despite all my countless hours reading car enthusiast magazines and websites. But I found them fascinating to look at and was intrigued by the functionality: they are not filled with air, so punctures cannot deflate them, yet they provide all the ride characteristics and functionality of traditional air-filled tires. Bridgestone is initially targeting fleet markets because the tires offer reduced maintenance, increased uptime and extreme durability, all leading to reduced cost.
These are, flat out, the best new idea in tires.
(Sorry. It was there.)
So much more to cover. We will be back with a wrap-up next week!