To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

The Year’s Biggest Gadget Conference Is All About Electric Cars Now

Automakers are showing out at CES.

New EVs.
Heatmap Illustration/Kia, Honda, Vinfast, Getty Images

The consumer electronics show in Las Vegas formally known as CES has evolved beyond a showcase for ever-larger screens, laptops, and niche gadgets looking to make it into big box retailers. CES is now, among other things, a full-fledged auto show, with the world's largest automakers announcing ambitious products alongside — and sometimes in partnership with — their tech counterparts.

In recent years, new electric concepts from Chevrolet, BMW, and Ram have each captured attention. This year, it was Honda’s turn to make a splash.

After two decades of dipping its toes into the electric vehicle market, the Japanese carmaker announced the new 0 Series (as in zero emissions) with two concepts that show what Honda wants to bring to the U.S. market in 2026.

The flagship Saloon sedan’s sleek, swept-back design is a material manifestation of what Honda calls its man maximum/machine minimum packaging concept (in case you’re looking for an acronym, it’s M/M*1), which boils down to making the car’s footprint as small as possible while still keeping passengers comfortable. On the other end of the svelte-practical spectrum is the Space-Hub, which applies the venerable minivan concept in an EV format with extra space and seating that swivels to create a rolling lounge.

Honda was also at CES in partnership with Sony, which showed the latest iteration of its Afeela prototype, the electronics company's first foray into the automotive world. Sony's Playstation division clearly got its hands on the concept, which means augmented reality displays built on the game development platform Unreal Engine that feature eye-popping 3D graphics. If you want, you can have a monster magically appear on the roadway as you’re driving. You can also visualize yourself driving underwater. On stage at least, the car could be steered with a Playstation controller.

Kia was back in Las Vegas to announce its hyper-modular, commercial-focused Platform Beyond Vehicle strategy. Showing five models in three sizes all based on the platform, the new lineup will begin with the PV5 and focus on delivery, ride-hailing, and smaller commercial work (think your local electrician) thanks to its Lego-like “life modules” and powertrains.

This being 2024, AI is everywhere at CES, even in car world, with Volkswagen incorporating ChatGPT into its Ida voice assistant, Mercedes updating its MBUX Virtual Assistant with a new “empathetic” AI, and Intel designing a new family of AI-infused systems-on-chips to monitor drivers and passengers in an autonomous future.

While most CES concepts aren’t headed for roads anytime soon, one thing you might be able to buy is the latest offering from Vietnamese EV maker VinFast. While its U.S. launch is off to a rocky start, the ultra-compact VF3 might be cute enough to keep the critics at bay, with its bulldog stance and incredibly diminutive size. Measuring in at just a little under 10.5 feet, the VF3 is nearly two feet shorter than the new Fiat 500E or about the same size as a Smart car. Coupled with its off-roader looks and a claimed 125-mile range, the VF3 could be the smallest, affordable, and most adorable EVs for sale in the U.S.

Blue

Damon Lavrinc

Damon Lavrinc is a freelance writer and industrial design student focused on the future of transportation. A former driving instructor and communications professional, Damon is the co-founder of the Autonocast and led transportation technology coverage at WIRED, Jalopnik, and other outlets. Read More

Read More

To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
Sparks

Uncle Sam Is Helping Americans Buy 675 Electric Cars a Day

New Treasury data just dropped.

An EV charger.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Earlier this week, I was thinking to myself, how are we going to know how many people are actually taking advantage of the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act?

When I put the question out on Twitter — I mean, X — I heard from Sam Hughes, a researcher inside the Treasury who pointed me to a section of the department’s website that contains data on tax credits by year. The problem is, it hasn’t been updated since 2020. But then today, as if to answer my prayers, I received a taste of the data I was looking for in my inbox.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
HMN Banner
Get today’s top climate story delivered right to your inbox.

Sign up for our free Heatmap Daily newsletter.