Electric explosion: CES to spotlight EV technology – Automotive News

Vietnamese EV maker VinFast, after its L.A. Auto Show debut, expects to take part in CES.
Decades ago, the auto industry’s first foray into CES involved speakers, sound systems and other aftermarket products.
Today? The car itself has evolved into a platform for technology. CES, the world’s largest annual technology showcase, reflects that.
Electric vehicles are expected to take center stage during this year’s show, with General Motors scheduled to unveil its electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup Wednesday, Jan. 5, and CEO Mary Barra set to deliver a keynote address.
In some fashion, it’s a return to form for GM, which debuted its Chevy Bolt EV at CES in 2016. It was a groundbreaking event.
This time around, there’s a key difference: Consumers are increasingly purchasing EVs.
Wahl: Inflection point for EV mass adoption
“We’re really at an inflection point for the mass adoption of EVs,” said Deborah Wahl, global chief marketing officer at GM. “It’s exploding much faster than we all thought.”
Global passenger EV sales were poised to reach as high as 6.3 million in 2021, according to a December report from research outlet BloombergNEF, nearly double 2020 figures. In North America, EV sales jumped 63 percent year over year in the third quarter.
GM, which is poised to further highlight developments from its BrightDrop commercial EV business division, is not the only automaker planning to showcase its electric vehicles. Stellantis said it would unveil an electric crossover concept called the Chrysler Airflow during the show, with further developments from Chrysler and other brands still to come.
Vietnamese EV maker VinFast, fresh off its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, is expected to take part in CES. Another company planning to make its first CES stop is TOGG, also known as the Turkey Automobile Enterprise Group Inc. The company is expected to show an electric SUV that’s supposed to enter production in late 2022.
“There’s so much going on in the automotive world, and consumers, they really want their cars back,” said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, noting the product shortages that affected the industry throughout 2021. “There’s no question that the automobile has a long life ahead of it in terms of being a product consumers want, need, enjoy, appreciate.”
Plans for an in-person portion of this year’s CES included 20 percent more space dedicated to automotive technology, compared with the last in-person show, in 2020. The 2021 show was all virtual.
The association is devoting considerable attention to EVs and consumer sentiments around them.
In December, it published its first survey of the EV landscape and emerged with at least one key finding: Thirty-nine percent of consumers who didn’t currently own an electric vehicle said they were likely to consider one for their next vehicle purchase.
But nonowners were not yet convinced EV hurdles had been cleared. Less than half — 47 percent — said EVs had been around long enough to be considered reliable, and 48 percent cited a need for more public charging stations.
Of those respondents who already owned an EV or plug-in hybrid, 79 percent said their cars exceeded their expectations in terms of being fun to drive. Seventy-three percent said their expectations had been met or exceeded in easy experiences finding charging stations.
For consumers not yet ready to make the leap, “my career has taught me that people don’t really know what they want until they personally experience it and see the value,” Shapiro said. “I’ve seen it with everything from the computer to the telephone. Not that I’m that old — it was the cellphone. … But with intense competition, with mass production, with changes in innovation, all those things that people are concerned about are going to go away.”
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