For the first time since the inception of CES, the Detroit Auto show and CES have not gone back to back. For a lot of people, including myself, this yielded a sigh of relief. Firstly we can now stop sharing resources across both shows – challenging given the cross-country distances and show differentiations. Detroit is a pure play international automobile show designed to shift cars upon release. For the automotive executive, CES showcases pure technology and is designed to unite the tech world and auto industry enabling them to work in harmony together. Secondly, I certainly won’t be missing the Detroit January weather and thirdly it gives me the opportunity to properly reflect on all the great car and tech launches at both. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed this year with the products launched at CES… It was the biggest year yet for Electric with every new vehicle showcased being an EV or plug-in hybrid.
The new Nissan Ariya shone brightest amongst the other debuts and given the troubled year that they’ve had (28% operating profit drop forecast by March 2020), this would have been gratefully received! It’s very much the Leaf’s successor but larger (think crossover SUV) with 2 motors (v.s the single Leaf motor) and a 300 mile range on a single charge (the Leafs is 225).
There’s 2 new technologies at play with the Ariya : ProPilot 2.0 and e-4orce.
ProPilot 2.0 enables Nissan to maintain a level of competitiveness with Tesla’s well rated Auto-Pilot system. In a nutshell, it enables self driving but only on some roads (such as interstates) but you’ll have to keep your eyes on the road (your eye movement is tracked) and you’ll need to take over on highway exits and other tricky situations. We’re eager to see how much notice the car gives the driver of such tricky situations, however it’s nonetheless a decent first foray into the world of self driving.
Here are ProPilot 2.0’s main features, which many of the OEMs will be integrating into their cars: :
- Automated emergency braking / pedestrian detection
- Lane departure warning, keep assist and centring assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop and go
e-4orce (pronounced e force) is an exciting addition to the Nissan range as it gives really precise handling and stability enabling excellent cornering performance (also on slippery surfaces) whilst enhancing comfort. This very much gives the Nissan Ariya a sports car feel, which is a first for a Nissan EV. For us, this was the standout pure play drive tech at CES – the performance enhancement along with tangible benefits in both handling and safety, make it an all-round winner.
Not a car technology launch but equally exciting are plans from Toyota for a 175 acre city at the base of Mount Fuji. It’s going to be called Woven City and the houses will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Starting with 2000 inhabitants, full time residents and researchers will trial new advances in robotics, autonomy, smart homes, personal mobility and artificial intelligence. The city itself will be designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who designed the 2 World Trade Centre in New York. The buildings will be made mostly of wood in a Japanese style interwoven with advanced robotics and autonomous vehicles will be used to transport inhabitants. Work starts next year and I for one am very much looking forward to getting an invite to this pioneering municipality.
Thanks CES for putting on a great show, especially one that showcased so much potential for sustainable automotive technology. We at Haig Barrett have been pushing sustainability for 20 years now so it’s great to see this married with performance in the Nissan Ariya.
On another note, I’m running a series of round table chats for automobile industry experts held across the globe. Leave a comment or drop me a message if you’d like to participate.