Like the past few years, automotive players used the 2021 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), organized from January 11 to 14, to showcase new technologies, launch products and announce partnerships. This year’s CES, which went all-digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was majorly focussed on electric vehicles (EVs), 5G connectivity, digital cockpit, artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles (AVs). Moreover, COVID-19 has failed to dent the OEMs’ (original equipment manufacturers’) plans.
Here are Counterpoint analysts’ top 10 automotive announcements from this year’s CES:
1. Mercedes-Benz unveils a 56-inch ‘Hyperscreen’
As the cars are becoming smart, the need for a bigger screen is increasing for communicating and checking all the real-time vehicle data. Moreover, this 56-inch OLED Hyperscreen provides various functions like infotainment and personalized display. The screen is supported by eight CPU cores, 24GB RAM and 46.4GB/sec RAM bandwidth which helps reduce screen response times. In the era of the digital cockpit, MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) will slowly become the backbone of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, making the car more intelligent.
2. GM reveals an ambitious EV plan and a flying car concept
With the concept of flying Cadillac eVTOL, GM has joined the race for capturing the flying car market with other automakers like Hyundai, Toyota and FCA Group. Flying car testing projects have just started around the world and we will have to wait till after 2025 to get a good perspective on the topic.
GM launched BrightDrop, a new business unit for commercial EVs, aiming to build a first-to-last-mile EV ecosystem for logistics companies. This concept is not new, but there is huge potential for this market. GM may face stiff competition from other players working in this segment, like BYD, Rivian and Workhorse Group.
After a poor performance in the past few years, GM is repositioning itself and just changed its logo to reflect its EV focus. The company is spending $27 billion on EVs and AVs, targeting to launch 30 EV models by 2025. GM is also working on a battery technology called Ultium. These moves show GM’s seriousness towards its electrification goal and signal its strong comeback in the automotive market.
3. Panasonic unveils augmented reality (AR)-based heads-up display (HUD)
Panasonic unveiled an AR-based HUD which utilizes PRISM (positioning, reflection, intuitive, zonal UX and mission control) process to provide accurate situational awareness. A 3D imaging radar captures full 180° forward vision up to 90 metres while the 4K resolution provides a crystal-clear video of highways. Eye-tracking technology and AI-driven positioning accuracy are the key features of this HUD, which is expected to enter the market in 2024.
4. Mobileye showcases plan for AV rollout
As a part of its plan to commercialize AVs, Intel subsidiary Mobileye is expanding its testing of AV fleets to Shanghai, Paris, Tokyo and New York (pending regulatory approval) after a successful run in Tel Aviv, Munich and Detroit. Mobileye is also working on new Lidar silicon chips (SoC), which are expected to enter the market by 2025. This SoC can simplify computing and reduce cost by a significant amount.
5. Here Technologies brings a new mapping-as-a-service offering and 3D city models for vehicles
Here Technologies introduced a unique mapping-as-a-service offering where enterprises will be able to create their own maps. EV players can personalize their route maps through this service to reduce the range anxiety problem among stakeholders.
Here also launched 3D city models for vehicles while announcing a partnership with Leia and Continental to bring cutting-edge experience to automotive players. 3D maps with AR/VR applications will increase accuracy in location mapping, will be more engaging and help in taking better decisions while driving.
6. Harman redefines in-car experience in the 5G era
Harman is aiming to put a gaming console, a recording studio, or even a concert hall experience into the vehicle to provide the best user experience. High-resolution OLED or QLED displays, 5G enabled TCU and TBOT, Harman’s audio technology and advanced haptics will come together to give the user an immersive experience.
Harman is also offering a creator studio experience inside a car. Automatic background noise cancellation, virtual assistant, user-friendly video set-up, interactive lighting and publishing tools are leveraged here to create content even while driving.
With the help of 5G, premium audio quality, cloud service and partnerships with concert organisers, Harman is bringing live concerts to the car. More partnerships are expected with content creators, service providers, app developers, OEMs and module players to improve the experience.
7. Gentex reveals full display rearview smart mirror
Gentex demonstrated an LCD-based industry-leading Full Display Mirror (FDM) with the bimodal functionality of acting as a mirror and display. FDM is a rearview mirror which can capture surroundings with better angle and stream on display. It can be easily integrated with a camera monitoring system (CMS). In the smart mirror mode, it can record video, which helps in avoiding accidents and in finding the reason for an accident in case it happens. FDM is still a key feature for premium vehicles. However, with the rising awareness of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), we will witness more penetration of FDM into mid-priced vehicles.
Gentex also exhibited a dimmable glass system, HomeLink car connectivity, Integrated Toll Module (ITM), an in-cabin sensing unit, and a smart lighting system. HomeLink is an embedded connectivity solution for vehicles which can perform functions like door lock, garage door opening, security, smart outlets, smart lighting and appliances. A vehicle integrated ITM helps users manage toll bills through a single solution, thus reducing traffic and improving efficiency in toll management. It has already entered partnerships with automakers and technology service providers for creating innovative solutions for customers. Gentex, one of the leading connectivity providers to automakers, is trying to bring a new concept to the digital cockpit and the coming autonomous age.
8. NXP announces BlueBox 3.0 AHPC development platform
NXP announced a new BlueBox 3.0 Automotive High-Performance Compute (AHPC) development platform which supports Level 2+ autonomous driving. NXP’s Layerscape LX2160A processor helps improve processing performance two times the previous generation of the platform while the S32G processor provides secured vehicle networking. As automakers will incrementally reach the full AV stage, this platform will help find near-term applications in Level 2+ and Level 3 automated vehicles. Since this platform is flexible and scalable, it can be updated with rising levels of autonomy.
9. Magna firms up EV and AV plan with a series of strategic pacts
Magna launched the LED-based Mezzo Panel for the Fisker ADAS panel. Mezzo Panel is a micro-LED and sensor-based polycarbonate panel which can be integrated into a vehicle body without affecting body aesthetics. Magna is also working on the Magna Vision Panel which is set to be showcased at the 2022 CES. Magna and Fisker are collaborating on building unique ADAS features and EV-sharing platforms.
LG Electronics and Magna have created a joint venture to concentrate on the electric powertrain market. In the CES last year, Sony surprised us by unveiling an EV prototype, Vision-S. In this year’s CES, Sony showed new videos of the Vision-S. Magna is one of the major partners for the Vision-S.
10. John Deere showcases VR technology for tractors
John Deere highlighted seed planting with the help of virtual reality (VR), AI and a camera system. A VR-based tractor will help improve precision during planting and work seamlessly in different environments. With the rising applications of 5G and IoT in the agricultural field, John Deere is attending the CES for the past few years. Besides showcasing major products and services in the passenger and commercial vehicle segments, the CES is also becoming a stage for unveiling products for small segments of the automotive industry, like farm equipment.