January 5

Cars becoming big wheels at technology show

High-tech rides from Audi, Ford and others crowd into the spotlight.

The Washington Post

Boasting big names such as Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes and Toyota, the annual International CES convention, starting this week in Las Vegas, is increasingly becoming a major auto show. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the floor space taken by automotive companies in 2014 has increased by 25 percent over last year’s show.

click image to enlarge

Ford says that its C-Max Solar Energi concept car, above, which runs on gas and solar-electric power, has a range of 620 miles, 21 of which can be completely electric.

The Washington Post

According to the CEA, at least 17 percent of U.S. households currently own a vehicle with some kind of connected system such as OnStar. The industry group expects sales of in-vehicle technologies to grow by nearly 20 percent in 2014, to $11 billion.

Audi will take center stage at the show, with the firm’s chairman, Rupert Stadler, delivering one of the show’s main keynote addresses. Stadler is expected to expand on some of the themes that emerged from last year’s CES examination of the auto industry, such as the potential of increased connectivity behind the wheel and the potential for driverless cars.

Of course, Audi will also have something new at the show: the debut of a new concept car. The Audi Sport quattro laserlight is notable because it has laser headlights.

The German car company said the laser headlights “leave all previous systems in the dark with its higher performance” and that the car itself also has state-of-the-art display and operating system technology.

But Audi won’t be the only firm showing off a new model at the show. Ford is debuting a high-tech ride of its own: a solar hybrid concept car, called the C-Max Solar Energi. The car runs on a combination of gas and electric power, with a range of 620 miles. According to Ford, 21 of those miles can be completely electric. In a statement, the company boasted that this is a first-of-its-kind vehicle that allows drivers to have an electric car without relying on the power grid.

Over 125 auto technology firms will be exhibiting at the show this year, according to the CEA.

Mazda joined the list of new exhibitors this year, showing off its “Mazda Connect” system, which incorporates smartphone-like features into its vehicles.

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