CES: BMW, Merc, Qualcomm, Sony, Amazon give us a glimpse into future of mobility
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022, partly in physical avatar in Las Vegas and also joined by virtual announcements, has seen carmakers put forward an exciting vision for mobility. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler and Chevrolet had their next electric vehicle (EV) developments to talk about, while tech companies including Sony, Qualcomm and Nvidia are also invested heavily in tech for EVs and smart cars of the future.
BMW iX M60 EV gets the M-line performance
The BMW iX M60, the M-series evolution, adds the high-performance flavour to the electric SUV. There’s 619 horsepower (not many EVs come close to that sort of number), a 0-60kmph time of just 3.6 seconds and a range of up to 566km when you’re not testing the G-forces with some enthusiastic driving.
The 1,100 Newton metres (Nm) of torque is largely unmatched — in comparison, the Tesla Model X delivers 639Nm while Jaguar I-Pace packs 696Nm when you want your right foot to do the talking. The features list includes advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), adaptive LED headlights, traffic monitoring sensors and Bowers & Wilkins Diamond sound system. The BMW iX M60 goes on sale in June ($106,095 onwards; or around ₹79 lakh) though specific country availability is yet to be confirmed.
This BMW iX Flow can change colours, too
The German automaker really isn’t holding back at all at this year’s CES. The iX Flow concept show car was used to show off the colour-changing technology. The underlying tech for this is the electrophoretic technology found in E Ink displays. You may have seen a similar display technology in Amazon Kindle e-readers. The iX has a special wrap that uses electric current supply to bring the colour-changing effect.
Right now, there are three colours you can change between — black, grey and white, and some patterns working with these three shades. These are the restrictions of an E-Ink display. No word on when these panels will be put into production.
Mercedes-Benz and an ultra-long range EV battery
How did Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX draw 1,000km range from an EV battery? The 100kWh battery (in comparison, an Audi e-tron GT with 93.4kWh battery pack has around 500km range) goes the extra distance by reducing electricity consumption to as low as 10kWh per 100km. In comparison, a Porsche Taycan consumes around 28kWh/ 100 km.
There are solar cells on the roof of the Vision EQXX which can trickle charge the battery as well when you are driving along, a streamlined aerodynamic design and improvements to materials used to shave off weight where possible. Battery density improvements mean the battery pack in the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX takes up half as much space as batteries in rival EVs do, without compromising on capacity.
Amazon Fire TV in your car: Looking at you, Ford and BMW
BMW has shown off the Theatre Screen system for its luxury cars — this is a 31-inch panoramic screen in the 32:9 aspect ratio and with up to 8K resolution. This will also integrate the Amazon Fire TV platform, which will give passengers access to every single app they can also otherwise access on their TVs at home, with a Fire TV device connected.
The BMW Theatre Screen will have 5G connectivity. At the same time, Ford has also confirmed some cars including the 2022 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Navigator SUVs will add the functionality in the infotainment features list — though exactly when, remains unknown.
Sony’s next frontier: Electric cars
Electric cars are red hot. Sony, the popular tech company, doesn’t want to miss out and confirms that they will be forming Sony Mobility Inc. this year. There are two concepts Sony is working on — Vision-S 01 and Vision-S 02, the latter being an SUV. These will have Level 2+ ADAS using LiDAR scanners and high dynamic range (HDR) sensors that don’t get blinded by lighting changes. The cockpit will be customisable in terms of features, complete with connected car tech and everything will also be controllable via a phone app.
Qualcomm’s new chips for Volvo and Polestar
Volvo will use Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Cockpit Platform chips to improve software performance of Polestar EVs and will also use these Volvo’s future EV cars. It is confirmed that the upcoming Polestar 3 will use the new Snapdragon Cockpit Platform. This is expected to help improve the performance of the software, which is Google’s Android Automotive OS. Users will be able to experience faster infotainment response, lower power consumption and over-the-air updates will become simpler, too.
Chrysler’s start of the EV portfolio
American car maker Chrysler has an EV concept that’ll go on sale in 2025; it is called Airflow and claims 640km range. This is the company’s torchbearer, in a way, for the full-electric car portfolio that the company plans to have in place by 2028. The concept shows off two 150kW motors. The STLA Brain software platform will be the vehicle’s control centre and will handle software updates as they stream in.
The STLA SmartCockpit, as the name suggests, will power the infotainment system and features including navigation and voice control. It is expected that the Chrysler Airflow will offer Level 3 self-driving capabilities when it finally goes into showrooms.
Nvidia’s new platform for autonomous vehicles
Nvidia has made a Drive Hyperion platform for autonomous mobility with 37 high-performance sensors for safety. These include 12 state-of-the-art surround cameras, 12 ultrasonics, nine radar, three interior sensing cameras and one front-facing lidar. Why so many sensors, you may ask. The company says, “architected to be functionally safe, so that if one computer or sensor fails, there is a backup available to ensure that the AV can drive its passengers to a safe place”.
The Drive Hyperon platform is designed with the Nvidia Drive Orin system-on-chip, which will allow vehicle manufacturers more flexibility with software and services they can offer.