CES 2022 is chock full of new products itching to hit store shelves, but it’s also a place for companies to showcase projects that have been percolating deep underground.
The automotive industry is no stranger to CES, showing off concept cars that are designed to wow and amaze, but aren’t necessarily destined to hit the road. Even with lessened attendance due to the Omicron variant, CES 2022 was no exception to the wild fancies of Detroit, Japan and Germany. These are the few concept cars that caught our attention.
Mercedes Vision EQXX
Mercedes is no stranger to electric cars, and already sells several different models across the United States and Europe. It’s also been very proactive in developing new concept cars, and showcasing what future EVs might look like. So what sets the Mercedes Vision EQXX apart from the crowd? Simple, the 620 mile range.
Currently you’d be lucky to get hold of an EV that can offer 500 miles of range. Not only are super high-mileage EVs rare, but all prove to be universally expensive. With the EQXX, Mercedes has figured out a way to push that limit even further — with an upgraded battery, low weight and aerodynamics. In fact, the car only needs 10 kWh of power to travel 62 miles — which is the equivalent of burning a quarter gallon of fuel.
But Mercedes hasn’t sacrificed what makes a Mercedes such a desirable car. The EQXX also comes with a 47.5-inch 8K mini-LED display that stretches the entire dash, vegan leather interior, and ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control so you don’t have to flail at a touchscreen to do stuff. It even has solar panels, which it claims can add up to 15 miles of range on long-distance drives.
The EQXX won’t be hitting the road, certainly not any time soon, but Mercedes has confirmed some of these features are already being added to future EVs. So here’s hoping that insane range is coming sooner rather than later.
Sony has a stake in almost every part of the tech industry, be it phones, gaming or cameras. But it’s never been involved in the automotive industry in any meaningful way. So why has it just revealed its own concept electric car?
Sony isn’t the first tech company to express an interest in developing electric cars, but it is the first one to actually show us something. Despite all those rumors of the Apple Car being on the way, there’s still no concrete evidence that it's any closer to prime time than it was in 2014.
The Vision-S is still a prototype, and the newly-formed Sony Mobility’s future isn’t certain, but the Vision-S is an impressive specimen. The car has dual 200 kW motors (roughly 268 horsepower), a top speed of 112 mph, and has an absolute smorgasbord of tech inside, including 5G and gaming capabilities. It’s far from the most impressive EV out there, but it’s not half bad for a first attempt.
Chrysler’s first EV is still a few years off, but the automaker’s very first electric concept car gives us an idea of what sort of things we can expect once 2025 rolls around. In fact it looks pretty close to production-ready, so don’t be surprised if Chrysler launches something similar.
The Airflow concept is set to come with two 150 kW (210hp) motors, an estimated range of 350 to 400 miles and parent company Stellantis’ 'STLA AutoDrive' system promises to be capable of Level 3 autonomous driving at some point in the future. Given the legal hurdles level 3 autonomy, which allows the driver to take their eyes off the road, has faced, that feature is still very much theoretical.
The Airflow packs in a lot of screens, with two in the rear and four at the front of the car. Central to this is a main infotainment screen, plus a digital gauge cluster, a secondary screen for in-car controls, and the final screen in front of the passenger seat. The rear screens are on the seatbacks, in full view of anyone sitting back there.
We don’t know much else, but if Chrysler can bring all this to a production car then we’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Before long cars will be able to drive themselves, and the interior is going to have to change to account for the fact there's no human driver. GM is already planning for that eventuality with the Cadillac InnerSpace, a truly autonomous concept with no human driving abilities whatsoever.
Inside is a two-seat couch, with a built-in ottoman and dedicated compartment for slippers and a blanket. That's right, this is a car to relax in, though from the looks of things the design won't go so far as to let you lie down and take a nap.
There's also an enormous screen that takes up the entire front view of the car. Because you don't exactly need a transparent windshield if the car is the one doing the driving. You might as well put that space to good use.
However the most exciting part of this is that GM expects to be able to sell people their own autonomous vehicles as early as the middle of this decade. That would be a challenge, considering all the legal and technological hurdles autonomous vehicles face, but it would be one heck of an accomplishment. In other words, watch this space.
BMW iX Flow
At a glance this car looks like an ordinary BMW iX, which are due to launch later this year. But, take a closer look and you'll see that this is no ordinary SUV. The BMW iX Flow is actually able to change color, with the help of an e-ink wrap.
That's right, the same e-ink you'd find inside your Kindle's display. This enables panels on the iX Flow's exterior to swap between white and black coloring at the push of a button. Sadly this particular concept doesn't have any other coloring options, despite the fact color e-ink has existed for a while.
While it still looks a little rough around the edges, and there are noticeable triangular designs when you look closely, the iX Flow is quite an interesting idea. Not only does it take all the hassle out of recoloring your car, BMW has also come with ideas on how to utilize it productively. That includes flashing, should you lose your car, change appearance based on battery level and more.
LG is another tech company jumping on the automotive bandwagon, though it isn't going for a traditional car experience. The Korean company, which already has a hand in EV battery production, has come up with this concept of an autonomous home on wheels. Or rather an extension of your home that can also get parking tickets.
Naturally the Omnipod has been designed with all the conveniences of home, including a fridge, retractable furniture, and a ‘Meta Environment’ display that is designed to mimic a different exterior environment. LG also showed the van being used as a mobile movie theater, which suggests the screen can be used for entertainment as well.
There is an AI concierge that looks like a built-in version of Alexa, complete with a digital avatar, that controls the in-car environment and appears to be able to do other things — including order food.
While other details, including information on bathroom facilities, are still few and far between, the LG Omnipod is a great example of how the automotive industry might be once we can get cars to drive themselves unsupervised. Because why sit in the driver’s seat during your morning commute when you could have a nap on an actual bed?