Everyone loves concept cars. Sure, many people like to say that concept cars are pointless styling exercises, statements of excess, and demonstrations of technologies that will never make it into production. But even those people, when they’re done pontificating, stand there admiring whatever strange creature slowly turns the turnstile. on the 20223 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegaswe’ve got a whopping three concept cars – proof that CES is now the most important car show on the calendar.
It’s true: Two of the CES concept cars had bad names, and one was a bit of a reboot. However, the quality of the flights of fancy makes it very clear that CES is for sustainability on the automotive front. With that pesky Detroit auto show now well and truly out of the wayCES is clearly the biggest auto show in January, and there is little reason to doubt that it is the biggest show of the year, too.
I’ve been attending CES since 2006. I was there when Ford became the first major manufacturer to debut a production car at CES, launching the Focus Electric in 2011. However, I have yet to walk away from a Vegas show excited about the future of automotive.
Of the three concepts, the least concept-y is Afeela, from Sony Honda Mobility. It’s also the CES car with the silliest name, although BMW will give it a run for its money. This first iteration of Afeela is an evolution of Vision S which blew everyone’s mind at CES 2020. The 2023 flavor is much hotter on the styling front compared to the old one. Okay, I’ll stop mincing words: It’s boring to watch, a fact that won’t change the number of displays on the bumpers. However, you can’t help but wonder what a car from Sony can be had.
The real shame is when we have to think about that. Sony says we won’t see a proper production car for another three years. Given how the industry is currently operating, it seems like a long wait.
Another great concept with a perhaps not so great name is The BMW and Vision Dee. Here, “Dee” stands for Digital Emotional Experience, but I can’t help but think that there is one in a Bavarian marketing team. listening to Wet Leg before they dial into a brainstorming meeting. It doesn’t matter what we call a rose, the fenders that change its color, look very sweet.
I’ve witnessed great E Ink demos at CES for over a decade, everything from cereal boxes to wallpaper, and this is the best. To see the car flash from a lurid yellow to a more traditional white with red and blue racing stripes just gets the creative juices flowing. I think we are still a long way from this coming into production, but if it happens, it will be a revolution.
The last major concept is Ram 1500 Revolution, which if anything has the worst name of the three concept cars on display. It’s hard to see an electric pickup truck as “revolutionary” when it comes to the market years after competition from Ford and Chevrolet. Still, it looks great, and I’m sure it will be great when it hits dealers sometime in 2024.
Even the non-concept car that debuted at CES was pretty impressive. All electric VW ID.7 promises up to 700 kilometers of range. Remember, that’s the WLTP cycle in Europe, so you’ll be able to reduce it significantly for the EPA rating when it comes here. But, that still has to explain somewhere over 350 miles for what should be a comfortable, practical, and reasonably priced electric sedan. More importantly, it will enter production this year.
2023 was a great CES, a stark contrast to what we’ve seen at any other auto show in recent years. While I really hate the logistical mess of trying to cover this sprawling, disorganized show as a journalist, I can’t help but be excited about what this year’s CES has to offer. When was the last time an auto show made you feel that way?