The 2019 International CES took over Las Vegas last week, and amidst all the robots, drones, laptops and lasers there were some announcements of interest to automotive dealers looking toward the future. While futuristic flying taxis and walking cars captured the spotlight, other automotive-related announcements have more near-term relevance:
Computer chip maker NVIDIA announced what it’s calling “the world’s first commercially available Level 2+ automated driving system,” which automakers will be able to use to implement autonomous driving technology features such as highway merge, lane change or lane split, parking assist and pedestrian detection. Tier 1 suppliers Continental and ZF Friedrichshafen have already announced they will be using the autonomous vehicle technology in systems hitting the road in 2020. In the long term, it’s one more sign of the giant tech company ecosystem growing up to make autonomous driving features a reality, even if true “self-driving cars” are largely still years off. In the short term, it’s one more incremental step in providing consumers with useful and valued autonomous capabilities that get them used to the car taking over more responsibilities; as well as one more new technology for auto dealers to train their sales teams to explain and their service teams to diagnose and repair.
NVIDIA also got together with Mercedes-Benz at CES to announce, “a new partnership going forward, creating a computer that defines the future of autonomous vehicles, the future of AI and the future of mobility.” The two companies reportedly hope to consolidate multiple onboard systems into one central device, which will present both opportunities and challenges for dealers in the service department at some point.
As for what that fully autonomous vehicle ends up looking like, BMW’s iNext mixed reality concept showed a future in which the windshield becomes a video screen for movies, video calls, computer work, games and more while the vehicle is in full self-driving mode. The automaker hopes the technology will be ready by 2025, by which point dealers will have had time to learn how to use their CRM systems and predictive analytics to pick the appropriate movie to play for a customer’s test drive.
Google was everywhere during CES, which was appropriate because its goal was to show how Google Assistant – the “Hey Google” voice-commanded assistant competitor to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa – is going to be in a billion devices in the near future. That meant some offbeat announcements, such as Google-enabled shower heads and pressure cookers. But it also included the car, where Android phone users who drive older cars got some good news in the form of inexpensive aftermarket devices from JBL and Roav that will bring Google Assistant’s features to their vehicles without the cost of upgrading to an Android Auto infotainment system. For dealers facing challenges selling used vehicles with outdated infotainment systems to younger, tech-savvy customers, these inexpensive devices ($50 estimate) might turn out to be deal-changers that bridge some of the gap between technology generations.
One other aftermarket device announced at CES to bring modern capabilities to older vehicles was the FenSens car backup parking sensor. It’s built into a license plate frame – yes, traditionally prized real estate for a dealer – and works wirelessly with Android or Apple phones to provide backup sensor capabilities to older vehicles without them. (It also includes some basic stolen vehicle tracking capabilities.) While dealers might be loath to give up the license plate frame advertising real estate, the $150 retail ($200 for two) device could be a worthwhile add-in on the used car lot for safety-conscious customers.
In other rearward-looking news, auto supplier Valeo announced the XtraVue Trailer, a digital camera “invisible trailer” system that makes trailers or towed campers “disappear” on an in-cabin monitor, eliminating the blind spot behind the vehicle for the driver. As more Americans purchase vehicles such as trucks and SUVs with significant towing capabilities for the first time, advances in towing safety and ease of use.
Bose announced it’s made the same noise-cancelling technology for which its QuietComfort headphones are known into a system for vehicles, using the vehicle’s existing speaker system to “minimize unwanted sound in the cabin caused by driving over rough roads, grooved concrete, and uneven pavement.” The company says its technology will be in production vehicles by 2021. With NVH featuring so prominently in consumers’ satisfaction rankings, anything that makes cars and trucks quieter makes for happier customers down the road.
There were actual vehicles announced at CES, too:
Nissan unveiled the new LEAF e+, which updates the EV’s powertrain to increase range (up to 226 miles) and performance. It also features new autonomous features, a new in-cabin display, refreshed design and more.
Mercedes-Benz launched the 2019 CLA 250 Coupe, with updated styling, a high-tech dashboard, semi-autonomous driving features and next-generation tech touches such as cabin lighting controlled by the driver’s gestures.
If you’re trying to keep up with the latest automotive innovations, then it’s good to have predictive analytics on your side. Our technology helps you stay connected to changing buyer behaviors, changing industry conditions and evolving economies. Schedule a demo to learn more.