CES 2023 - Mobility Trends and Announcements
CES is back! My sixth visit since 2017 proved to be the most enjoyable to date. The number of both exhibitors and attendees at CES 2023 was significantly up vs. 2022 though still lower than in 2020 — the event was virtual in 2021. Indeed, there were about 3,200 exhibitors and 115k attendees this year vs. 2,400 and 40k in 2022, and 4,000 and 170k in 2020. The middle ground reached in 2023 provided a good balance between exposure to technologies, networking opportunities, the ability to interact with exhibitors and wander easily through the halls.
Mobility-related companies covered approximately 20% or 190,000 m2 of the CES floor space. Whereas legacy players and the more mature startups were concentrated in the huge West Hall, inaugurated in 2022, the early-stage startups were located as usual along with their peers at Eureka Park. Kudos to the French delegation which gathered about 120 startups in this latter venue.
These companies had a limited presence except for Stellantis, BMW and Mercedes-Benz which each had large booths. GM and VW Group had very small ones though CARIAD — VW Group’s software house — interestingly had a significant presence in West Hall with the rather clear mission to attract talent while featuring some of the group’s products.
Stellantis used CES to introduce two concept vehicles. The OEM presented RAM 1500 BEV concept, a seemingly production-ready pickup truck with segment-first third row seating (jumper seats), a follow-me function aimed at work operations as well as a bot made by EFI Automotive that crawls under the vehicle to charge it by induction — although it still has a power cable. Peugeot introduced Inception, a sleek, electric coupé (see below). Its presence at CES begs the question as to the brand’s interest in the US market. Stellantis also presented its future STLA SmartCockpit platform on a Chrysler interior mockup. The solution will go on a production vehicle in 2025.
BMW introduced its Neue Klasse next-gen platform under the disguise of DEE (for Digital Emotional Experience), a concept car focused on digital everything. It features a large pillar-to-pillar head-up display which BMW believes will eventually replace the increasing surface area of physical displays in the cockpit. BMW introduced at CES 2022 an e-ink-based film that enables body color to dynamically change between white and black. This year, the OEM one upped itself with an array of colors across the body, using e-ink again.
VW showed its new large electric sedan, the ID.7, with an expected WLTP range of 700 km. It will be launched end 2023 in Europe.
CES has definitely become a preferred option vs. auto shows for many OEMs to introduce new products or concepts. This is especially true as traditional venues around the worlds struggle to find a new positioning and keep attendance at a viable level.
Emerging OEMs and Mobility Providers
Sony first surprised us at CES 2020 with a concept sedan along with hints the tech company could be interested in the automotive market. Hints were confirmed at CES 2022 when Sony announced a JV with Honda, Sony Honda Mobility, to “explore the commercial launch of EVs.” Yet another step was taken this year with a more mature concept sedan and the introduction of the JV’s brand: Afeela. The vehicle will be launched in 2026 (see below).
For its second CES participation, Turkey-based TOGG had a very large booth where it introduced its first vehicle. The good-looking battery electric SUV is scheduled to go into production in Q4 2022 at a greenfield plant located in Turkey with annual capacity for 175k units.
Dutch Lightyear displayed “0”, a sleek electric sedan with class leading drag coefficient of 0.175 and four hub motors. Its major differentiator comes from the 5 m2 of solar panels that cover the body and generate up to 1.05 kW. Ramp up for the Lightyear 0 started at Valmet (Finland) though volume will remain low given the 260k€ price tag. A Lightyear 2 is expected to go into production by 2025 with a target price below 40k€. Teasing for its design was provided at CES.
Vietnamese VinFast, also a second time participant, featured its US-bound range which was first introduced at CES 2022. Since then, the very ambitious OEM has shipped hundreds of vehicles to the USA that will be delivered through company-owned stores and, in parallel is pursuing the European market. Its first vehicles are produced at a greenfield plant in Vietnam. The company has previously announced a second assembly plant in the USA with annual capacity of 150k units.
For its first participation at CES, Zoox displayed its robotaxi which was introduced two years ago. The 4-seater vehicle is capable of 120 km/h in either direction. It is equipped with wide-angle 4-wheel steering for outstanding maneuverability. The Amazon subsidiary still will not tell when they intend to deploy the robotaxi and start their associated ride-hailing service though Las Vegas and San Francisco are supposed to be their first markets.
Waymo displayed it four generations of vehicles, i.e., the Firefly (introduced in 2014), the Chrysler Voyager (deployed without safety operators in Phoenix), the Jaguar iPace (used in the San Francisco fleet) and the next-gen, a purpose-designed 5-seater engineered by Geely’s Zeekr for the Alphabet subsidiary (see above). The vehicle does not have a steering wheel and its metro-style sliding doors are designed for maximum accessibility. No launch date has been announced.
Emerging e-Motorcycle Players
Last year, I reported on the products presented by US-base e-motorcycle startup Damon Motorcycles. Two other such companies had booths in West Hall this year presenting great-looking electric bikes with lots of software-enabled features.
Finland-based Verge Motorcycles and China-based Da Vinci Motor presented high performance bikes. Their motors generate up to 150 kW and 100 kW, 850 to 1000 Nm at the wheel and 0-100 km/h, resulting in acceleration in the 3-4 second range. Whereas Da Vinci uses a hub motor, Verge designed an innovative drivetrain. The motor is integrated in the rear rim and there is no rear wheel hub (see below).
Both companies offer advanced software-enabled features akin what we observe with the shift from ICE to EV in the automotive space. Da Vinci even announced a self-balancing feature coming soon, thanks to a segment-first electric power steering. There is clearly growing competition to market leaders Zero Motorcycles and Energica in the e-motorcycle space — which I follow with great interest since I am the happy owner of a Zero myself.
Tier 1 Suppliers
Legacy suppliers were well-represented again this year. Participants included Bosch, Continental, Hyundai Mobis, Magna, Mando, Marelli, Plastic Omnium (first participation), Toyota Boshoku, Valeo, Yazaki and ZF. All displayed their latest tech with a clear focus on electrification, the software-defined vehicle (or software-defined functions more generally), exterior and interior lighting, innovative cockpits, displays, new electronic architectures or sensing modalities of all sorts. The interest in full autonomy (Level 4) seems to have receded as the focus is on promoting Level 2 and Level 3 ADAS solutions which can generate cash now.
In addition, ZF and Holon, a Benteler spin-off, both presented autonomous shuttles akin those of Navya or EasyMile. Holon announced they will start producing the 22-passenger vehicle in the USA in 2025, targeting the local market in partnership with local Beep, a mobility provider (see below).
As in previous editions, CES was an opportunity to witness a wide range of innovative technologies and solutions. I will not review individual companies here. However, I discovered new ones and learned more about those I already follow. This will further enrich the database of over 3,500 companies in mobility and auto tech I maintain for my global scouting services.
In general, there was a marked interest in solutions related to the software-defined vehicle (OS, on-board data management, connectivity, data streaming, feature automation etc.). I was surprised by the quasi absence of companies addressing EV components, i.e., batteries, motors or power electronics.
In the ADAS and autonomous driving space, there were again a number of radar startups with an increased focus on 4D-imaging sensors this year. There were markedly still quite a number of Lidar startups despite their financial hardship — e.g., a huge Aeva booth, duplicate booths for Ouster and Velodyne which are now merging. Consolidation for this sensing modality will continue.
Other domains in which I visited startups of interest include HMI, driver and in-cabin monitoring, battery management system, EV charging, audio, sensor cleaning and defrosting, sensor integration, sensor fusion, perception, computer vision, smart glazing, fuel cells, and more.
I also had a chance to guide three very senior-level automotive delegations through the halls of CES this year. It generated great discussions about the companies we visited as well as their tech and business models and traction. There is definitely a lot of exciting things to see provided you anticipate your visit with reasonable preparation.
Last, you will find similar reviews of previous editions of CES among the articles I have published since 2016.
Managing Director, Orsay Consulting
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