Automobile's Niche Growing at Consumer Electronics Show

Kia Motors displayed its Naimo concept car at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The automaker, along with at least five others, will return to the show this year.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Kia Motors displayed its Naimo concept car at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The automaker, along with at least five others, will return to the show this year.

As the relationships between consumer electronics and the automotive industry continue to intertwine, more than half a dozen carmakers are planning to attend the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show to exhibit technological advances in in-car information an entertainment, mobile integration, propulsion systems and vehicle safety and efficiency.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which opens next week and will feature 3,000 exhibitors, offers a broad canvas for an automotive market segment that the Consumer Electronics Association expects will generate nearly $9 billion in revenue this year. It’s anticipated that Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus and others will share the convention space in Las Vegas with dozens of auto-tech companies.

Of course, all the usual suspects will be there as well: Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, LG and Sharp.

Promotion is among the aims of any C.E.S. To that end, the show will try to enhance the buzz about electric vehicles with its GoElectricDrive TechZone. The pavilion, sponsored by the Electric Drive Transportation Association, will demonstrate electric vehicles paired with home and publicly available charging stations,

The traditional forms of in-car entertainment evolved long ago into far more sophisticated, if often unwieldy, systems, like Ford’s Sync (although such companies as Bowers Wilkins with Maserati, Meridian with Range Rover and Bang Olufsen with Audi are still steeped in designing elaborate sonic hi-fi for cockpit concerts). Some observers expect that the show will put significant emphasis on further integrating the smartphone in the vehicle environments.

Apple is expected to play a role. Last summer, Apple demonstrated Eyes Free, which incorporates Siri, its voice-recognition technology, into the car via buttons on the steering wheel that allow control of an iPhone or iPad without touching the device itself. Several manufacturers are investigating Eyes Free, including General Motors, BMW, Mercedes and Chrysler.

Johnson Controls, an auto supplier based in Michigan, will probably show a revised version of its 3-D in-dash instrument cluster, which stacks critical driver information in the foreground of the display, with other data visible deeper in the view.

Other advancements to look for: a focus on in-car apps, following the lead of Pandora, and more discussions about open-source software that will provide automakers with faster, better ways to incorporate advancements into vehicle entertainment systems.

One part of the industry that may have peaked is the aftermarket for electronics retailers, installers and suppliers. The issue is to be addressed at C.E.S. in a panel discussion called “Are Automakers Running the Aftermarket Off the Road?”

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