The Consumer Electronics Show Drives Change on the Show Circuit

Car shows were a phenomenon of the last century, with the growing patronage of major vehicle constructors eager to show off their new models and their technological prowess.

The big shows like Paris, Frankfurt, Detroit, New York and Tokyo quickly spawned offspring in every corner of the world where there were companies building cars, and people likely to be interested in buying their products. The process continued until electronics and the Internet moved into the driver’s seat. 

Over the last few years, there has been a growing tendency for the biggest manufacturers to show off their latest innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), instead of at the big car shows. The CES has been the primary showcase for electronics and new technology since the 1960s. Many a product has been introduced to the world there: the VCR, the CD, high-definition television, the XBOX – the list goes on.

Twenty years ago, parts supplier Delphi used the CES to present a concept car with such futuristic features as an anti-collision system, keyless locking, various sensors, an on-board cellphone and OnStar. In 2007, Bill Gates joined the President of the Ford Motor Company to introduce their brand-new feature dubbed SYNC: a combination of GPS, digital tunes and hands-free cellphone integration. It was a minor revolution at an event devoted to tomorrow’s technology, and now geeks had wheels. 

In January 2016, a week before the highly prestigious North American International Auto Show in Detroit, 12 car manufacturers were represented at the CES, and the car industry took up more than 10% of the 2 million square feet available to the 3,000 exhibitors. 

The star presentation at the event was to be given by none other than Mary T. Barra, CEO of General Motors. She was expected to unveil the production version of the 100%-electric Chevrolet Bolt. The Ford GT would be the CES mascot. Faraday Future, an electric car manufacturer cloaked in mystery, was to unveil its first concept car, and there were rumours that Volkswagen would be showing a new fully electric vehicle, possibly the Microbus. To say nothing of all the new on-board apps that are going to bring us driverless cars.