The world’s biggest tech exhibition was back in full swing as hundreds of companies showed their wares at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas from January 5 through 8. Cars have long been a big part of CES, and although some manufacturers opted out of the elaborate debuts that have been de rigueur in years past, there were still plenty of alluring automobiles, with a focus on user experience, electrification and safety technology. Here are the models that we were most excited about seeing.
Peugeot Inception Concept
This striking show car was the automotive star at CES, a manifesto for the French brand’s next chapter in design and technology. Created on a new EV platform, the Inception concept is low and wide with a futuristic, angular form that defines its aesthetic language. Coach doors open to reveal a spacious interior and what designers call the i-Cockpit, featuring a retractable, drive-by-wire steering wheel with digital controls inspired by video games.
Although Peugeot isn’t sold stateside, the brand’s parent company Stellantis (formerly FCA) includes the Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Jeep nameplates, among others, so we could see future vehicles with similar proportions and technologies from Peugeot’s Italian and US siblings.
Sony Honda Mobility Afeela Prototype
Sony has shown concept cars at CES before. This time, though, the company unveiled a new brand name in partnership with Honda, and showcased a suite of new software, connectivity and user-experience features. The nascent Sony Honda Mobility presented its Afeela prototype (as seen in opening image), a sleek, minimalist sedan with a “media bar” across the front face of the car that can communicate messages via light to those nearby. Designed with an ultimate goal of level 3 autonomy, the car is loaded with 45 cameras and sensors and is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon digital chassis.
As one might expect from a brand known for its giant TVs and video-game consoles, the interior boasts a sprawling coast-to-coast display across the instrument panel as well as screens in front of each rear seat. The cabin’s tech aims to blend real and virtual experiences, such as navigation using augmented reality, along with enhanced entertainment through a partnership with Epic Games. The company says it will make a production car based on the prototype, with orders planned for 2025 and delivery for North American customers by 2026.
RAM 1500 Revolution BEV Concept
Ram chose CES to unveil its first electric truck, which will set the tone for the company’s forthcoming EV lineup. Although a little late to the party compared with rivals from Ford and Chevrolet, Ram’s 1500 Revolution BEV concept is arguably the best-looking pickup we’ve seen from any of the Big Three. Ram designers eschewed the brand’s typically chunky design language for a sleeker form, along with a new front face that includes animated badging and a distinctive lighting signature. And a redesigned bed includes two tiers of storage space with multiple partitions and rings for anchor points.
The spacious, two-row cabin features a dual screen, contoured bucket seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and plenty of storage and productivity features. An interior comprising black upholstery with orange contrast stitching, orange seat belts, grey-suede trim, and orange ambient lighting gives the concept a premium, sporty feel. Traditional switches are replaced by capacitive controls on the steering wheel, sun visors and sunroof, while the AI-powered user interface can be customized and unlocked via biometric recognition. A production version of the Ram 1500 BEV is slated for 2024, an example of which we should see, according to Ram, “in the coming months.”
BMW i Vision Dee
Its name being an acronym for Digital Emotional Experience, the Dee concept from BMW previews an entirely new design language for the marque and the next generation of in-car technology. The clean, organic exterior styling is a much-welcome change from the myriad swoops, creases and decorative air vents of current BMWs, and forgoes a giant, nostril-like front grille in favor of a sleeker, stretched version of BMW’s signature twin kidneys. The front end uses light to display various facial-like expressions, and E Ink technology offers a changing digital palette of up to 32 colors.
Inside, a full-width head-up display (HUD) replaces a traditional screen, while haptic controls are integrated into trim fabrics, replacing traditional knobs and switches (technology we first saw from the brand in its 2019 Vision iNEXT concept car). BMW says it will redesign its entire lineup over the next three years and plans to include elements of the user experience—including the full-width HUD—in its Neue Klasse production cars, slated for 2025.
Wrapped in a 40-layer, electro-luminescent paint job, Volkswagen’s forthcoming electric sedan made its debut at CES in a camouflaged form that pulsates. Built on VW’s flexible, electric MEB platform, the ID.7 is still somewhat shrouded in mystery when it comes to its technical specs, but the automaker has revealed that the car will achieve more than 400 miles of range on a single charge.
Inside, the ID.7 gets a 15-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen and a head-up display that uses augmented reality. New digitally controlled air vents can precondition the car based on a saved user profile, and can also heat and cool the cabin indirectly—a win for anyone who hates feeling blown away by direct hot or cold air. Many functions can be activated by voice commands, similar to systems already used by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Volkswagen says full details for the ID.7 will be disclosed closer to the car’s official launch in the second quarter of this year.