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 MoreRead More
The Year’s Biggest Gadget Conference Is All About Electric Cars Now
Automakers are showing out at CES.
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.
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.