Oh, no: The electric cars at CES are getting all emotional

Not all of these concepts will end in tires

If you want more proof that electric vehicles are taking over, just look to CES 2023, which had been overrun with EV concepts cars on the floor and teased vehicles to be revealed.

Before the technonology jamboree the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, said it planned to put EVs in pole position at this year's event. The CTA's senior director of research, Prabhat Agarwal, cited a 2021 study by CTA showed near universal satisfaction among EV buyers.

"The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is upon us with the components of the EV economy forming before our eyes … EVs are clearly on a growth trajectory, as will be on clear display at CES 2023," Agarwal said last month. 

Several car companies have opted to show off new EVs at this year's show, while others have chosen to build booths highlighting their work toward becoming EV makers. Hyundai and Kia's exhibit space this year, called The ZER01NE Pavilion, will show off collaborations the automakers have made with startups working on "breakthrough technical advances" in several areas. 

Mercedes-Benz, which recently failed to launch a partnership with US EV startup Rivian to manufacture electric vans, will also be focusing on electrification strategy and "tech talks"in stead of showing off hardware. 

As for electric cars themselves, there are plenty of bog-standard EVs on display at the show - like Volvo's EX90 SUV - but that's not what the spirit of CES is about. 

Stellantis unveils electric Ram, Peugeot

Automotive group Stellantis, owner of brands including Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram, Maserati, Peugeot and Fiat, will be gave a keynote address in which the company discuss plans to electrify its fleet by the end of the decade, as well as showing off some new cars.

The Ram 1500 Revolution battery electric vehicle was unveiled, as was the Peugeot Inception concept car, a new concept EV sports car.

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The Ram 1500 Revolution EV - Click to enlarge

The Ram EV is the first built on Stellantis' new STLA frame, and appears to be aimed at Ford's F-150 Lightning BEV, with the Ram boasting superior range, towing capacity, and other measurements by which one measures a truck. Stellantis spent much of the time talking about additional cabin space, buttons replaced with touchscreens, and other "trucknology," but there was no mention of it having the ability to charge other vehiclkes, like the F-150 Lightning.

The Peugeot Inception concept EV is designed to be a "lounge-like" vehicle with minimal space eaten up by dash instruments. In its place is a steering wheel that looks more like a tablet that displays all the dials, all of which retracts for more relaxing space.

Stellantis also claims the Inception has a 500 mile range, and being a concept, it's not necessarily going to see a commercial run, but is representative of future electric Peugeots set to hit the road in 2026.

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The Peugeot Inception concept car - Click to enlarge

Also on display will be the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT BEV, and while it was first shown off in August, it might be worth a visit to see because of its "fratzonic chambered exhaust" system that ensures the vhicle just as loud as an internal combustion muscle car.

According to Motortrend, the "exhaust" system works by detecting when the vehicle is converting electricity to power (i.e., accelerating). That forces air "through the exhaust system and the sound produced goes through an amplifier and tuning chamber at the rear of the vehicle." 

Volkswagen digital camo: Not coming soon

Volkswagen will be showing off its latest electric sedan, the ID.7, at CES 2023, and it'll sport a wild digital camouflage paint job that, sadly, probably won't be for sale.

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The VW ID.7's digital camo that, sadly, will likely never make it to market - Click to enlarge

"No fewer than 40 layers of paint have been applied, some of which are conductive while others have insulating properties," Volkswagen said in a statement. Twenty-two separate zones can be independently controlled on the vehicle's exterior, and if paired with the car's sound system "the rhythm is visualized by illumination of individual areas." 

VW sees the ID.7 as an entry into the premium side of the EV market (though without providing a price), and it will also include an augmented heads-up display, 15-inch touchscreen panel and will be the first fully-electric VW sedan based on the company's Modular Electric Drive Matrix powertrain.

Sony and Honda Afeela the EV spirit

Sony and Honda announced a partnership on a "premium electric vehicle" in October of last year, but gave little in the way of details, aside from saying they wanted the vehicle to be built in the US and be on North American roads by 2026.

We now know what the joint EV brand is called - Afeela - which the pair decided on because it "represents 'FEEL,' which is at the center of the mobility experience." 

Odd branding choices aside, the Afeela concept car was also revealed but details as to battery capacity, range, price and other specs were still missing. 

Also mentioned at Sony Honda Mobility's pre-CES press conference was that the Afeela-mobile is outfitted with 45 cameras and sensors and the computing power to perform 800 trillion operations per second. The vehicle will be outfitted with Automotive-tailored SoCs from Qualcomm, and will include mobility services and entertainment being developed in partnership with Epic Games. 

Getting the feel-mobile on the road by 2026 is still Sony and Honda's goal, the pair said. 

Ok, BMW, you win crazy concept of the year

None of the new EVs, conceptual or otherwise, hold a torch to BMW's entry in this year's list of weirdest ideas to come out of CES. 

The i Vision Dee is an all-electric mid-size sedan with a minimalistic interior, a 32-color, changeable-on-demand E Ink paint job, full-windshield heads-up display and, apparently the ability to "express moods such as joy, astonishment or approval visually," BMW said.

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The BMW i Vision Dee being presented on state at CES 2023

The company is trying really hard to give this car a personality.

That full-screen HUD is able to transition between five levels of mixed reality, BMW said, with minimal info like driving data displayed, all the way up to "entry into virtual worlds." No mention of whether the i Vision Dee can express panic if you enter a virtual world while in motion.

BMW-i-vision-dee-interior

A digital illustration of Dee's interior

The front grill of the i Vision Dee will also feature "phygital" icons (a combination of physical and digital, says BMW) where the vehicle can produce facial expressions to convey the aforementioned feelings with low resolution emoji-like clarity. 

Most of the features of this vehicle are, of course, conceptual, though BMW said it plans to add some of them - the full-windshield HUD, in particular - to its future Neue Klasse vehicles beginning in 2025. ®

 

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