Allison Fried is the director of global event communications at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held annually in Las Vegas.
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Numerous companies and executives representing the aftermarket were among the 3,900-plus businesses – including some 900 startups – that comprised the combined overall roster of CES 2018 exhibitors and attendees.
Fried recently responded to a series of questions posed by Aftermarket Business World:
Q: How do you assess the presence of automotive firms at this year’s CES?
A: The automotive footprint at CES continues to expand. CES 2018 was, by all measures, a self-contained auto show, with more than 400 vehicle technology companies exhibiting across 297,000 square-feet of dedicated vehicle tech areas on the show floor. In fact, the automotive footprint at CES 2018 would make it the 5th largest stand-alone auto show in the U.S.
CES has become the intersection between the automotive and tech world. There were a record 11 automakers in exhibits or meeting space at CES this year, including BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Q: Have you been seeing a concurrent increase in automotive industry attendees in conjunction with the rising exhibitor presence?
A: CES is a must-attend event for anyone in the automotive world, and vehicle tech is a major theme at the show. According to our verified attendee audit, CES 2017 attracted more than 14,000 attendees from the vehicle technology industry and we expect that number to be on par for CES 2018. Our official CES Attendee Audit will be available this spring.
Q: What do you see as some of the key automotive technologies that were on display at this year’s CES?
A: Innovation is revolutionizing the automotive market, and we’re seeing that first-hand at CES.
We had an entire area dedicated to self-driving tech, with exhibitors like BYTON, Mobileye, Valeo and Apiv all showcasing their latest advancements. On the exhibit floor, companies were featuring connective capabilities, smart mobility and aftermarket enhancements that will take the driving experience to the next level.
Q: How do you view the prospects of autonomous vehicle technologies growing from concept vehicles to mainstream applications?
A: Once something from a science-fiction movie, self-driving vehicles will soon become a reality.
CTA market research shows that self-driving vehicles would bring $1.3 trillion in savings from productivity gains, reduced fuel costs and accident prevention. SDVs (Self-Driving Vehicles) are still learning to adapt to society as they figure out how to deal with unexpected events, like poor weather conditions, jay walkers, and road construction, but they will become a part of our everyday life in the not so distant future.
Q: In walking the show floor, did you see any particular automotive innovations that especially attracted your interest?
A: AI (Artificial Intelligence) was everywhere at CES, and it’s particularly exciting to see in the vehicle tech space. In addition to asking Alexa to preheat the oven on your drive home – which certainly adds convenience to your day – AI is now bringing an emotional connection to the car, giving us a total immersive experience.
Additionally, biometrics is adding security to our driving experience. There was a company on the show floor, Gentex Corp., that utilizes biometrics in the rearview mirror to scan a driver’s iris before turning on the car. Not only can biometrics authorize the driver, it can customize the entire car, adjusting everything from the seats to the mirrors, steering wheel and music.
There are also companies who paint a bold picture for the future of vehicle tech, which goes far beyond just the car. During his CES keynote, Ford CEO Jim Hackett shared his vision for creating a reliable future of transportation through a systems-based approach for the people of rising smart cities. He also introduced Ford’s Transformation Mobility Cloud, an open platform, designed to simplify the flow of data in support of transportation systems from vehicles and bicycles to mass transit.
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