We're back! It's a new year and time to start a new season of The Short Cut, our news and industry happenings round up. We're nearly two whole weeks into 2023 and, already, heaps has happened — thanks CES.
Indeed, CES has really kicked things off. For the first time since COVID-19, the event was able to take place, in person, with a degree of normality. Naturally, this edition is going to include a lot of references to CES so strap in, let's catch ourselves up with what happened.
As in previous years, Sony's dreams to go from desktop to driveway stole headlines. A couple of years back, Sony unveiled a prototype vehicle, the Vision-S, in a move that no one saw coming. Details were pretty thin and for the most part it seemed more like an R&D exercise than anything else.
This year, we have something more concrete. Sony has a manufacturing partner in the form of Honda, and a name: Afeela.
As Wired reports, the car's going to be packed with sensors, lean on video game tech for its in-vehicle systems and all-round be a bit of a PlayStation on wheels. But sadly, not everyone is "afeelin' good" about it. Sony isn't alone in its EV ambitions either.The Sony Honda Afeela concept car. It's not quite the finished product yet, but by getting Honda on board, Sony's dreams to build a car seem alive and well.
My colleague, Andy Marchant, who was on the ground at CES, tells me one of the main things that stood out this year was the number of new car brands, "most of whom you've never heard of before."
But don't be surprised that more EV brands are springing up. We're seeing many manufacturers and consortia develop cross-platform EV skateboards. These are rolling chassis including batteries and motors that come prepackaged and allow car brands to focus on what they want to put on top, bodywork, styling and perhaps most importantly, the in-vehicle experience. Speaking of which...
Last year, during our CES 2022 coverage, we gave a run down of our favorite in-car displays. This really was pointing to a bigger trend, an entire overhaul and redefining of the in-vehicle experience. Screens are the most obvious part of that, and an indicator of something much greater is going on in the dash.
Canadian outlet The Globe and Mail did a great run down on the in-vehicle tech that's not just screens, screens and more screens.Nvidia's game streaming platform, GeForce Now, is making its way to Polestar, BYD and Hyundai vehicles. Those long drives just got a little less boring, for passengers. Credit: Nvidia.
Highlights include: In-car health monitoring, eye tracking devices, radar tech and in-card cybersecurity and data protection. Securing a car has often focused on how to keep it locked and prevent theft. But as high-level ADAS and vehicle data become more common, we shouldn't overlook how we protect and secure data related to this kind of vehicle tech.
Graphics chipmaker Nvidia also announced that its game streaming service GeForce Now will be coming to some cars. Making those long drives less boring, for passengers at least.
A trend I think we'll see more of in coming years is car brands branching out from four-wheeled transport.
Many years ago Peugeot didn't make cars, it made bicycles. Even further back, it made lawn mowers and salt and pepper mills. This kind of evolution, a moving with the times, is something we should expect to see happen again.
This year, we saw VinFast, a Vietnamese carmaker, unveil a range of ebikes. Inverse magazine sang their praises too, saying they are clearly well-thought-out. We've also seen Polestar and ebike maker Cake collab to develop a robust and utilitarian ebike for when the car might not be the best tool for the job.
Carmakers putting their names on bicycles is nothing new. BMW, Land Rover, MINI, Jeep and others have all done it. But this time, it feels a bit different.
We know we need to clean up our roads and cities. Part of that is going electric and part of that using our cars less. As an attempt to keep our hearts, we'll likely see carmakers do more than just cars in the future.
Once upon a time, CES was known as the Consumer Electronics Show. It kind of still is, but its media people will tell you fervently, it's not. You should refer to it as CES at all times. Old habits die hard, but they have a point.
CES is not just about consumer tech anymore. It's simply the biggest tech industry trade show on the planet. Now that cars, EVs in particular, are becoming seen as pieces of tech rather than modes of transport, they occupy an important place in the show's halls.
Carmakers and startup brands alike are launching concept cars at CES, there were three this year. And that shouldn't be overlooked. The cars uncovered, the BMW i Vision Dee, the Sony/Honda Afeela and the Ram 1500 Evolution are all genuinely exciting concept cars, each for their own different reasons.
Slowly but surely, CES is becoming not just one of the most important tech shows, it's becoming one of the most important automotive shows too. Tim Stevens over on Jalopnik puts it excellently, read his take here.
It's also great for TomTom. Where else do all of its partners in mapping, location tech and geospatial data gather under the same roof as all of its automotive partners and carmakers?
The past two months have been big for TomTom. They might even be two of the most important months in the company's history.
In November, it announced its new Maps Platform and then in December, just before the holiday period, it lifted the lid on its involvement in the Overture Foundation. These are two crucial steps for the company to realize its dream of building the freshest and most accurate map and make it easier for all manner of organizations to use and innovate with location data.
Naturally, my colleagues spent much time talking about this with partners and clients at CES. They even found time to snap a few pictures. Sweet.
If you want to see more of what TomTom was getting up to as the show was on, check out the Twitter feed.
That's all for this week. See you next time.
Header image credit: Consumer Technology Association.