The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the hottest tradeshows in the world. Every year, record-breaking crowds hit the Las Vegas Convention Center to see the tech that will shape our future. And lately, the biggest and best innovations are coming from the car manufacturers.
Automakers from all over the globe see CES as the place to debut their cars of tomorrow. It’s a place that welcomes and embraces tech, making it the perfect location to show off the self-driving, electrified forms of transportation that will one day carry us to work and play.
While some carmakers chose to simply announce new partnerships—like Ford announcing that they will integrate Amazon’s Alexa into its own Sync infotainment system—others created dazzling concept rides that got us feeling all charged up. Here are our favorites from the show floor.
Faraday Future FF 91
Making up for last year’s cool, but not really real, supercar debut, Faraday Future hit the 2017 CES hard with the production-ready FF 91. With its minivan-inspired shape and tall ride height, it’s not as immediately sexy as something like a Tesla Model S. But look beneath the bodywork and you’ll find a package designed to make this ride the king of all EVs.
Let’s start with the power. A multi-motor setup provides the forward motion, with total power output rated at 783 kW, or 1,050 horsepower. That’s more power than the Bugatti Veyron, and all one thousand fifty of those electric ponies help take this van from 0-60 in just 2.39 seconds.
But there’s more to the FF 91 than just pure speed. A new system called Arrival Interface uses facial recognition technology to let owners unlock the car without the need for a key. Its autonomous driving system utilizes a massive amount of sensors, cameras, and a 3D LiDAR set up to allow for a wider range of self-driving capabilities. And with the driverless valet system, you can get let the FF 91 drop you off at the front of the restaurant as it goes and finds a place to park — all on its own.
Total range is a claimed 378 miles, and charging time should take just 4.5 hours with the Faraday Future home charger. Production is slated to start in 2018, right after Faraday Future completes its assembly plant in Las Vegas.
Chrysler Portal Concept
For all the talk about the youthful millennial movement, the truth is many of them are entering their mid-30s, meaning they have real jobs, homes, and families. And Chrysler designed its Portal concept just for them.
Looking like something from the mind of Sid Meyer, the Portal gives us a futuristic take on the minivan. A generous amount of LED accents helps provide a near endless amount of customization and style; all feature the ability to shift colors, animate, create ambiance, and more.
This EV concept is equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack rated at approximately 100 kWh, which can go up to 250 miles on a full charge. It’s also capable of SAE Level-Three semi-autonomous operation, meaning it can drive on the highway by itself when conditions allow. Other cool tech features include facial-recognition technology, voice biometrics, and the ability to “talk” to other vehicles — with the goal of this latter feature being to help avoid and reduce traffic.
Toyota Concept i
Car designers sure do love Syd Mead. His influence is strongly felt with Toyota’s Concept I, an EV-slash-personal assistant whose appearance pays homage to his light cycles from the original TRON film.
This wild concept is designed around the driver, and we’re not talking simple ergonomics. A forward-thinking user interface, biometric sensors, and other to-be-developed technologies not only learn the driver’s preferences, but also analyze their mood. So, say if the driver is feeling stressed in traffic, the Concept i will recognize that and convert to autonomous mode, getting them to wherever it is they’re going.
Trick lighting gives this car a personality, too. It can wink at you, greet you when you open the door, and it uses animations and text on the back panel to let other drivers know when you’re turning left or right. Concept i is a pure design exercise, so it may be a long, long while before we see anything like this on the roads.
Visually, Honda’s car of the future looks a lot like the tiny Step Wagons it sells in Japan. Inside, though, is where the company gets a chance to flex its technological muscles.
Like the other cars on this list, the Honda NeuV is an advanced EV with autonomous functionality. The NeuV also features advanced AI, dubbed “HANA,” designed to learn all about its driver and detect the emotions behind the driver’s judgments. So for example, if the driver starts feeling a bit agitated in traffic and starts getting a bit aggressive behind the wheel, HANA can make the decision to take control and let the driver relax.
Where the NeuV differs a bit from the other cars in this roundup is its ability to be used for ride sharing. Honda’s research shows that privately owned vehicles sit around for about 96% of the time, so why not use that downtime to help society a bit? What’s more, the NeuV can also sell energy back to the grid when it’s parked and not in use. As we seem to be moving to a sharing economy, the NeuV’s added aspect of social responsibility could be a real signal of the future to come.