Automotive tech has always been a significant part of CES – so much that in recent years the joke is that CES didn’t really stand for “Consumer Electronics Show” as much as it does “Car Electronics Show.”
And the 2023 CES was no exception: from the latest concept cars packed with electrification and automation to smart accessories to assist drivers and services to make it easier to find (and pay) for EV charging, much of the buzz at the Las Vegas Convention Center focused on technology in – or for –vehicles.
A few highlights on what’s coming “down the road.”
Going to CES?:Your guide to CES 2023: Where to go, what to wear and everything else to know
Hottest tech at CES:Pet gadgets. Skincare. What’s hot, and what’s not at Las Vegas’ CES 2023 tech conference
Alexa, find an EV charging station near me
On Jan. 5, Amazon announced new Alexa features tied to EV charging, with a goal to make what is often a stressful experience – trying to find an available public charger for your electric vehicle – a much smoother and faster one.
Drivers in an Alexa-enabled vehicle (or using an automotive accessory like Echo Auto) will be able to say “Alexa, find an EV charging station near me,” then choose one of the available options – and pay for their charge, too.
Amazon says EVgo, one of the country’s largest public fast charging networks, will be the first EV charging operator to partner with Amazon on this initiative, and offer voice-initiated payments for charging (“Alexa, pay for my charge” at an EVgo station).
Launching in the U.S. later in 2023, Alexa EV charging support will work with more than 150,000 public charging stations, says Amazon.
Boost me up
Cell phone boosters aren’t anything new, but at CES I looked at one designed for trucks, SUVs, RVs, and off-road vehicles.
Available now, the SureCall Fusion2Go OTR ($529) is a high-performance cell phone signal booster that should reduce those embarrassing missed or dropped calls, while offering clearer voice quality, faster data speeds, and improved streaming, says the company, even in the weakest signal areas.
It doesn’t matter what brand of phone you have, whether it’s 4G LTE or 5G, or which carrier you’re with. It supports multiple devices, including hotspots.
The unit ships with a durable, weather-tested exterior antenna that permanently mounts to the outside of any large vehicle.
Avert your eyes
While it didn’t seem to garner as much buzz as BMW and Ram, Mercedes has announced the introduction of Level 3 Autonomous Driving in the U.S. – well, in California and Nevada, to start – which should be available at some point this year.
Much like its Level 3 Drive Pilot system in Germany, Merc drivers in those states can not only go hands-free while behind the wheel, but they need not keep their eyes on the road. Instead, motorists can check their texts, read a book, play a mobile game, or watch a video – but must be prepared to retake control in the event of an emergency.
Speeds are currently capped at 37 miles per hour (about 60 km/hour).
The company says it will begin building cars with Level 3 Drive Pilot autonomous technology, but not specific timeline was given – plus, the tech needs to be approved by authorities in Nevada and California.
The old switcheroo
Can’t decide on what color car to buy that may be a thing of the past.
BMW has rolled into CES again with another fancy concept car – this time, with one that can change colors.
No, not like last year’s iX Flow concept that – while still impressive – could change between black, white, and grey – but the BMW i Vision Dee (“Digital Emotional Experience”) can switch between 32 colors. The midsize sedan leverages an e-ink exterior, not unlike an e-reader’s screen, but lets you quickly switch colors on the fly, or a combination of them, with panels, and even changing the look of the wheels and grill.
Also on the i Vision Dee is BMW’s updated HUD (heads-up display), which covers the entire windshield, so drivers can access info, communications, augmented reality projections, and something referred to as “virtual worlds,” but little was revealed about that.
A ‘brutiful’ concept:Ram 1500 electric pickup concept described as ‘brutiful’
After many months of speculation, the Ram 1500 Revolution made its debut.
As expected, it’s an electrified pick-up truck – but with a twist.
Arriving at some point in 2024, this futuristic battery-electric vehicle (or BEV) concept is loaded with advanced (and exclusive) technology, and boasts a cool design, too.
The real story is this BEV concept is in the area of charging. Sure, it supports a regular plug-in charger – yielding 100 miles of range in approximately 10 minutes, using 800-volt, 350-kilowatt DC fast charging — but Ram showcased a new inductive robot charger which could make home charging much more convenient. Resembling a robotic floor vac, the Ram Charger can detect the vehicle, and if it needs a charge, it automatically moves into position and aligns itself under the vehicle.
It’s like placing your smartphone on top of a Xi-compatible wireless charger to juice up your phone, without needing cables.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.