Marc Amblard / Founder & Managing Director, Orsay Consulting
This year I hesitated to travel from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas given the pandemic, but I do not regret my fifth participation to CES. The halls did look a bit sad with a good amount of empty space as numerous major players canceled their on-site presence in the two to three weeks prior to the event. They include Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, ZF, Magna, Veoneer, Microsoft, Google / Waymo, Amazon or Intel / Mobileye.
A total of 2,300 companies, including about 800 startups (of which over 100 were from France) participated, down from about 4,500 in 2020, the last live event. Visitor attendance was down 75% vs. pre-pandemic levels to about 40,000. This gave me a chance to test the “Loop” ride in Elon Musk’s Tesla inside his Boring Company’s tunnel – up to 2.5 km in a couple of minutes. An easy and comfortable ride.
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Nevertheless, the 2022 edition delivered its fair share of announcements, some far reaching, many communicated virtually. Several partnerships between incumbent OEMs and tech players were introduced, e.g. with Amazon, Qualcomm, Nvidia or Mobileye, concerning software development, chips, cloud services and autonomous driving.
Only two incumbent OEMs presented vehicles, Stellantis and BMW, but several emerging OEMs were in attendance, including Fisker, VinFast, TOGG, Indi EV or Sony (though they have yet to confirm they will enter the market).
Lidar startups had a significant presence, including Luminar, Ouster, Hesai, Innovusion and several more, strengthened by the billions of dollars raised in 2020 and 2021. Robotics was quite present across the halls, including in the mobility space, as demonstrated by Hyundai’s stands, which included no traditional or air mobility vehicles.
I also met very interesting startups offering things like touchable virtual 3D displays, tiny solid state lidars, lightweight computer vision, in-cabin wireless charging, electrochromic glazing, flexible thin-film OLED lighting and more. They further enrich my database of close to 3,000 companies in mobility and autotech which serves as the foundation for my scouting services.
I opted to focus here on 15 companies which made announcements of particular interest, i.e., incumbent and emerging OEMs, suppliers, a last mile delivery provider and an electric motorcycle startup.
One of two incumbent OEMs with vehicles on display, Stellantis showcased the city-focused, 6 kW Citroën ami EV, the Chrysler Airflow, a concept vehicle that looks very mature and quite promising (both below), as well as a few PHEVs. Airflow most likely represents the brand’s first EV to be launched in 2025, paving the way for an all-electric range now announced for 2028.
I had a chance to test ride the i4 M50 and iX M50 and was impressed by the torque on tap on the former – I am accustomed to thrilling accelerations with my Tesla and Zero electric motorcycle. The iX features a central console with controls using convenient haptic feedback as well as a spinning wheel similar to that on Ford Mach-E. I was surprised to see carbon fiber-reinforced plastic used for the sides (clearly visible the B pillar) and roof, reminiscent of the I3 and i8.
BMW also presented an iX covered with an e-ink-based film that enables color to dynamically change between white and black … albeit somewhat gimmicky (see below).
CEO Mary Barra remotely pitched an all-EV strategy. GM announced 50% of their US capacity will be converted to EVs by 2030, preparing for a full electric light vehicle range by 2035.
As the electric pickup market is about to heat up in the US, Barra presented its electric Silverado (below), a full-size pickup with 400 miles of range (EPA) launching in 2023, a more reasonable vehicle than the Hummer EV with its 4t GVW. The Silverado will offer up to 664 hp and 1100 Nm, charge at 350 kW and deliver 10 kW in vehicle-to-load. Price will start at $40k, going head-to-head with Ford F-150 Lightening. GM also announced two electric SUVs, Equinox and Blazer.
In the ADAS and autonomous driving space, Barra announced that Cruise’s Origin, jointly developed with Honda (SOP end 2022), will not only provide Level 4 ride-sharing but also delivery services. Ultra Cruise, a Level 2+ feature to be deployed in 2023, is expected to offer hands-free driving in 95% of driving scenarios. Barra also announced GM’s plan to sell autonomous vehicles to private consumer by the middle of the decade.
Lastly, GM is building momentum with BrightDrop, its recently established logistics solutions entity which just started to deliver electric vans. Barra addressed its partnership with FedEx for cargo vans and delivery containers and announced one with Walmart, which is pushing home deliveries – and invested in Cruise.
The company canceled its physical presence but used the CES opportunity to introduce the Vision EQXX concept, a high-tech EV aimed at Tesla Model 3. The concept features impressive characteristics including a drag coefficient of 0.17. A solar roof and the long-tail design contribute to the overall efficiency of less than 10 kWh/100 km (over 6 mi/kWh). As a result, the OEM announced 1000 km of range (WLTP?) with a nearly-100 kWh battery pack. The latter also happens to be very compact at half the volume and 70% the weight of the EQS pack, featuring an unusual passive cooling solution.
The Korean OEM presented interesting concepts for logistics, industrial and personal mobility applications, but no traditional vehicles or eVTOLs as in previous CES editions. Their focus was clearly on robotics as a means of rethinking mobility amongst various applications. The founder of Boston Robotics, which Hyundai recently acquired from SoftBank, was given significant airtime.
Hyundai highlighted a small corner module (about 200 mm tall) housing the perception, driving and steering functions, and demoed it on various types of vehicles, including the automated logistics container below – it’s interesting to note that GM is developing similar containers with BrightDrop.
Hyundai also embraced the metaverse with virtual movement, talking about “metamobility” though it is unclear this will entail.
At CES 2020, Sony surprised us with Vision S-01, a sedan being developed with Magna and other Tier 1 suppliers, and currently undergoing testing in Europe. This year, the Japanese company presented Vision-S 02, a cross-over (see below), along with the sedan with which it shares the underpinnings and interior.
Sony also announced the creation of a Sony Mobility, a division reportedly tasked with « exploring the commercial launch of Evs». With two vehicles well beyond concept stage, it appears Sony has made up their mind on the overall strategy and now will need to decide how to deploy it.
How long will Apple remain silent regarding their automotive plans. Indeed, Sony seems to get serious and FoxConn already announced plans. As a reminder, the latter will enter the automotive space as a tech provider (see deal with Stellantis), a contract manufacturer (see deal with Fisker) and a stand-alone OEM.
Based in Los Angeles, Independent EV, a.k.a. Indi EV, was founded in 2017. The company has been funded so far by a private investor, thus its relative stealth mode. Indi presented a full electric crossover with 400 hp from dual JJE drives, packing 73, 95 or 112 kWh of energy (below).
I was surprised to see the emerging Turkish EV maker at CES. The company presented a sedan concept vehicle though their first product will be an SUV to be presented end 2022 and launched in 2023. The interior (below) is reportedly representative of the future SUV which will is expected to have a range of up to 500 km. The company is building a green field assembly plant in Turkey with a capacity 175 k/yr. It did not make any announcements re. the US market.
The automotive division of Vietnamese conglomerate Vin Group showcased five BEVs named VF5 through VF9, i.e., a hatchback, two SUVs and two derived crossovers. The young company started selling ICE vehicles in 2019 and is aggressively shifting to a full EV range this year.
VinFast announced plans to enter the European market in 2022 and the US market by end 2022/early 2023. US customers will have access to the larger VF8 and VF9 (ex VF35 and VF36, see below), then to the mid-size VF5 and VF6. Vehicles will be sold direct-to-consumer, but VinFast will have its own showrooms.
Pricing will start at 36k€ / $41k for the VF8 and 49k€ / $56k for the VF9 excluding batteries which will be leased for $100-150 per month depending on pack size. Both vehicles will be fitted with dual motors delivering a total 300 kW. Reservations are now open in Vietnam, Europe and USA.
Lastly, the ambitious company announced a future manufacturing site in Germany in addition to a previously reported one in the USA (2024). All in all, VinFast presented an appealing product range and a very aggressive strategy, but will they have the means to deliver on their ambition?
The French, Top 10 global Tier 1 supplier was among the very few incumbent suppliers with a significant presence, displaying products and offering test rides.
In the ADAS/autonomous driving space, Valeo demoed the impressive Scala 3, its third gen Lidar which will arrive on the market in 2024 to address Levels 3 and 4. The product is highly spec’d: over 4.5M points/sec, 200m+ at 10% reflectivity and an impressive angular resolution. It is designed to operate at 130 km/h and will classify and track objects. The company also introduced a near-field 360° Lidar. For reference, Scala 2 is fitted on the new Mercedes S-Class and Honda Legend (Level 3), and Valeo was the first supplier to have a Lidar in series production (Audi A8 L3).
Valeo offered testing of a wide range of products: several e-bikes (48V, up to 1.5 W peak), a motorcycle (48V, 9 kW), a 48V e-chassis (above) for others to build top hats on, and 2 delivery bots to showcase the company’s powertrain and autonomous driving solutions. A Mercedes EQS and a VW ID4, which are equipped with 400V e-drives supplied by the Valeo-Siemens 50-50 JV, were also available.
The Israeli “corner module” company introduced P7, a 7t (4t payload) modular delivery vehicle platform which will go into production in 2023. A third party will provide the top hat and assemble the vehicle.
The company also presented a concept vehicle representing a small (3.4m long, 1.4m wide) last mile delivery vehicle with 2t payload, leveraging its corner module (below). Last, REE announced a deepened partnership with AAM to source drives.
During its one-hour conference, the company CEO presented an ambitious plan to boost its presence in automotive. The strategy is built on 4 pillars: car-to-cloud (SW and services platforms), a cockpit platform to provide an immersive experience, a connectivity platform to address both on-board communication and V2X, and lastly a ride platform. The latter focuses on driving assistance (Levels 2 and 3), leveraging Arriver which will be carved out of Veoneer and is expected to be ready by 2024.
Supply deals were announced with Volvo & Polestar and Honda for the cockpit platform and BMW, Renault, Cadillac for the ride one.
The last mile delivery-focused, Silicon Valley-based startup presented Transporter, an autonomous delivery vehicle which it plans to start producing in 2023. It is fitted with Mobileye’s autonomous driving technology, offers 900 kg of payload and up to 500 km of range. Udelv reported 1,000 reservations, including from the US Air Force.
The Vancouver-based startup produces high performance electric motorcycles with several interesting features. The battery pack (up to 20 kW, 450 V) serves at the frame on which the up-to-200 hp motor and swingarm are attached (see below). In addition, the safety-focused company equips all its bikes with fore and aft cameras and a 360° radar which provide object classification and tracking. Resulting blind spot and collision warnings are communicated visually and via haptic feedback through the handlebar. Lastly, the latter’s height and the footpegs can also be adjusted electrically for comfort and the bikes are fitted with microphones to detect wet pavement.
The bikes are of course also connected and offer vehicle-to-load energy transfer. Pricing starts at $17k. I look forward to testing these bikes to compare them with my Zero Motorcycle.
Marc Amblard / Founder & Managing Director, Orsay Consulting
Based in Silicon Valley and focused on the mobility space, Orsay Consulting provides global startup and technology scouting, deep market insight, executive workshops, keynotes and strategic advisory services for corporate clients, and advises startups. Visit Orsay Consulting for more information.