At CES 2019, we had the chance to dive deep into the world of technology that is quickly becoming a reality in electric vehicles and self-driving cars to come. While some of the innovations seem several decades away, plenty of these technologies are right around the corner. Here’s a closer look at our picks for the best automotive inventions and cars of CES 2019.
This year’s themes were electricity and autonomy, and as always the cars of CES looked more stunning than we could ever have imagined.
Mitsubishi Emirai 4
This Mitsubishi has been at CES for several years now, but each time it comes with some new upgrades worth noting. The folks at the Japanese company have been busy working on this smart mobility concept and it shows.
It now features the company’s heads-up display with augmented reality and 3D mapping. The driver also gains access to a half mirror that features an LCD panel for 3D images of their environment. Other features include autonomous mode, haptic feedback control, biometric authentication and mobile payment integration.
If you thought Harley-Davidson wouldn’t ever offer an electric motorcycle, you were wrong. The LiveWire is built through collaboration with Panasonic Automotive. It features LTE connectivity, built-in GPS plus a 4.3-inch touchscreen display. This offers integrated music and navigation.
All this technology didn’t distract them from building a strong, high-performing bike. It goes from 0-60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds. On top of that, it comes complete with a high-voltage battery that gives it a 100-mile range per charge. Sure, that’s not enough for your cross county ride planned with the buddies, but it’s pretty impressive to start with.
Nissan IMx Kuro
Nissan showcased the stunning IMx Kuro concept, but we won’t see the fully autonomous electric crossover until 2020 at the earliest. Still, that didn’t stop spectators from being wowed at the spacious interior and innovative exterior design at CES 2019.
On the car’s dashboard, there is a panoramic OLED display. In addition, the door trims are adorned with a wood-grain pattern that elevates the in-car feel. What’s most impressive is that this crossover reads the driver's brain waves to help them improve reaction times on the road, when it’s not in fully autonomous mode that is.
Alphabet showed off the Waymo One during CES 2019. This autonomous minivan features a camera installation on its roof and has Lidar arrays equipped as well. It’s the division’s first self-driving service currently being offered to riders that are testing the technology. Is it the future of taxi service?
Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic
The German automaker stepped up to the plate when they introduced the Vision Urbanetic. This autonomous driving platform features switchable bodies. You can fit it with the optional passenger module that creates room for up to 12 people. Of course, four of them have to stand, but it’s still unique. If you need to transport packages, it’s simple to equip it with a cargo module instead.
The base is where all the autonomous driving occurs. It features the Urbanetic’s propulsion system, consisting of electric motors and batteries. All that’s left is the adjustable minibus design for cargo or people-carrying, and of course that ambitious and polarizing exterior. Crazy? Cool? You decide.
The cars of CES weren’t just overly futuristic; we also got to see production models like the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA. This second-generation front-wheel-drive sedan features many improvements and a semi-autonomous driving system, and additional features and design improvements over the current model.
There’s a hands-free mode and MBUX voice control system. If you prefer, you will be able to sync it with the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Mercedes-branded smartwatch. We expect that it will hit dealerships later this year, but pricing hasn’t been revealed yet.
BMW Vision iNext
While we are talking about luxury automakers, let’s see what BMW offered. The Vision iNext is a science-fiction enthusiast’s dream on wheels. This electric, autonomous luxury vehicle features a voice assistant plus available screen projection to anywhere inside the cabin.
There’s also a spacious, carpeted back seat and a chic wooden coffee table which responds according to your touch gestures. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the future of driving while lounging back in your car with your closest friends, this is the car you’ll want to own.
We first saw the Aicon back in 2017. At the time, it was one of the best concept cars of CES. Now, Audi plans to bring it to production by 2021. This luxury car features an exceptionally designed interior and a transparent roof. There is no visible steering wheel or pedals inside, just serene surroundings.
Of course, it doesn’t lack performance at all. This autonomous vehicle features four motors that take it up to 497 miles after a full charge. In fact, it will charge to 80 percent capacity in under 30 minutes without ever being plugged in. Pretty cool technology!
2020 Lincoln Aviator
While the 2020 Lincoln Aviator is a plug-in hybrid, it’s still worth talking about. This crossover pumps out 450 horsepower with the help of a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. Inside the car, there are plenty of high tech improvements as well.
Instead of using a key fob to get inside, drivers unlock the luxury vehicle with the help of a smartphone app. Other features include park assist, traffic jam assist, an adaptive suspension, 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D audio system plus special drive modes with exotic names like Excite and Conserve.
Byton is poised to become a top Tesla competitor. The first vehicle they showcased was the M-Byte prototype. We first saw this model at CES 2018, but it’s set to go into production later this year.
It’s the lower priced of the two models they brought to the show at $45,000. This electric crossover features a 48-inch touchscreen that stretches out the entire length of the dashboard. There are also cameras located around the body for its bevy of autonomous technologies.
This premium sedan is slated for 2021 and features Level 4 autonomous driving technology. That means it drives without the need for any human guidance. The K-Byte comes complete with a strikingly similar interior design to the M-Byte, including Alexa integration with the Byton OS.
What’s different about the K-Byte, when looking at other self-driving vehicles, is that the side sensors retract into the body when you aren’t using the autonomous mode.
Bell Nexus Air Taxi
If you want to know what the most eye-catching design was at CES 2019, it would have to be this Air Taxi. This flying hybrid is a cross between a helicopter and a drone. Of course, that means it’s not one of the “cars” of CES, but we couldn’t go without mentioning it.
If you’ve been in the Los Angeles, Dallas or Dubai area, you might have even seen this rideshare testing in the air. It features an electric range of 150 miles and is set to be released in 2025.
Nvidia Drive Autopilot
Nvidia has been a leader in technology for decades, so it made complete sense to see them showing off their Drive Autopilot system during CES 2019. A sophisticated computer located in the trunk allows the system to achieve Level 2 autonomy. With Nvidia technology, drivers receive help with acceleration, steering and braking for a heightened driver-assistance experience.
If you want to own a Transformer, you might one day have your chance. The Hyundai Elevate concept walks and climbs over obstacles with its robotic legs. Then, it shrinks back down to enter its driving mode.
What’s exceptional about the Elevate is that you can swap out various attachments. Plus, it climbs a five-foot vertical wall or reaches across a five-foot gap all while making sure the passengers remain level. Yes, please!
Your Favorite Cars of CES 2019
What was your favorite technology at CES this year? We would love to hear about it. Was it one of the concept cars or the futuristic designs that might infiltrate our world in a few years? No matter what you got excited about, I think we can all agree that the future is going to be unlike anything we could imagine.
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