Frankly, I am More Than a Bit Disappointed With This Year’s (Automotive) CES

CES, the iconic annual trade show formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, is organized by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
CES 2023 automotive opinion 12 photos
Photo: Stellantis North America
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Usually, it was the typical event that brought a host of new products and technologies for the consumer electronics industry to a wide audience. It arrives every year early in January, to set the trend for at least the better part of the year. However, some folks that were intelligent enough to call the shots at automakers saw the opportunity to invade yet a novel territory as cars increasingly became computers on wheels.

As such, little by little, they established a CES presence every now and then. But to the horror of traditional automotive showgoers, this turned from sporadic apparitions to a must-have, and little by little the carmakers migrated from the iconic North American International Auto Show venue in Detroit, Michigan to CES in the hotter Las Vegas, Nevada. This trend was so obnoxious that organizers were forced to move out of the January slot and now the 2023 North American International Auto Show is scheduled for September 16-24.

Interestingly, the move may have been organized a bit too soon or perhaps at the right moment – depending on your POV. Mine is that perhaps the unusually harsh winter weather experienced by much of North America during the Christmas holiday impeded a more extensive presence at CES 2023. Otherwise, they have no excuse, frankly. This is because, in my opinion, the automotive stuff at CES 2023 was quite shamefully uninteresting.

Sure, I am not going to go on a limb and call the entire show a fiasco, because I am not a tech expert. Instead, I want to solely relate to the automotive industry’s window of opportunity concerning this year’s apparitions. So, one of the first big news about the CES 2023 in Las Vegas was revolving around Volkswagen – yep, that old German company with the Dieselgate scandal still looming behind it and some pretty uninteresting vehicles, save for the VW Golf R – presenting the tech-camouflaged, fully electric VW ID.7.

CES 2023 automotive opinion
Photo: Ram
This is the heir to the Volkswagen Passat throne in America, and it already felt underwhelming. Luckily, there was one European automaker that applied for a U.S. visa, and the Peugeot Inception Concept lit up our day with its “feline” attitude. Sure, speaking of forceful intrusions, we could always discuss how tech giants plan on taking over the car world – the latest example comes from Nvidia and Foxconn, which joined forces in a major partnership. Well, good luck, and better contact both Tesla and Apple to see what went right and wrong for them about the complicated automotive industry lifestyle.

Moving on, I was pretty much unimpressed by the Hyundai Ioniq 5 ‘robotaxi’ autonomous service launching in Las Vegas late this year with Los Angeles to follow soon. A few years ago, I thought that by 2023 my next ride would allow me to sleep, eat, pray, indulge in recreational activities (wink, wink), and many more while I traveled the world without ever touching the legacy controls. Well, that was a pretty big assumption of mine, frankly, I admit.

Chrysler did bring the Synthesis Cockpit Concept to the show with 37 inches of glass, fancy AI to power it all, and the assumption that at least some of the lessons learned from its creation would be used for the brand’s upcoming EVs. In the meantime, all we can buy from them are the remnants of the 2022 Chrysler 300 sedan and the 2023 Pacifica or Pacifica Hybrid minivans. I feel ashamed for them, seriously. Luckily, there was also one other Stellantis redemption present at CES 2023.

But before that, I want to discuss the BMW elephant in the, sorry, ‘Dee’ room. That would be the i Vision Dee prototype, which follows in the footsteps of the BMW i Vision Circular prototype by presenting the sedan body style now instead of the hatchback take on the upcoming 2025 Neue Klasse EV series. Seriously, I have much respect for the e-ink technology they use for the color-changing body, but can we please stop jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, at least from the design standpoint? To me, it looks like any other EV prototype from China that unknown automakers presented last year.

Now, finally, the only array of sunshine – at least for me – came from the visionary looks of the Ram 1500 Revolution BEV Concept that previews the series-production model that will come (hopefully as soon as possible) to battle the full-size EV truck establishment. Everyone knew it would look like this and it’s still pretty cool to watch it from every angle. Plus, if it keeps this design and manages to capture the lead in terms of range, towing, payload, and charge time, then call me hooked by Stellantis.

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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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