It’s a new year and in the auto world, 2016 is off to an electrifying start. This week brought news that the electric vehicle market expects a big year, with automakers at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showing where EVs are going to go, with the Detroit Auto Show just around the corner.
This week kicked off CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. Last year’s CES was “driven by data and dreams” with announcements of self-driving cars and high-tech concept vehicles. This year is only slightly more down to earth, with a couple of far-out electric cars whose features are expected to appear in production vehicles before long.
First came Faraday Future’s FFZERO1, a high-tech electric racecar. Faraday Future, based in California and backed by Chinese money, also revealed a strategic partnership with Chinese media giant LeTV. LeTV, known as the “Netflix of China,” is, according to Greentech Media, eager to corner the Asian EV market as well as take on Tesla. The FFZERO1 is an impressive piece of technology, with a whopping 1,000 horsepower and featuring a single seat, an enormous sky roof, and a smartphone built into the steering wheel.
Faraday Future says it is looking to disrupt the nascent EV market by treating its cars more like a piece of technology than a traditional vehicle, and that’s just what consumers want. NPR points out that the “convergence” of the auto industry and the tech community is not new, as cars have been moving closer to “gadgets” for years. Ford, the world’s first auto manufacturer, announced at CES it was focused on becoming a “transportation company.” In the words of Ford CEO Mark Fields, the company is working to "keep one foot in the present, one foot in the future."
The FFZERO1 is still a concept car, but Daily Mail reports that the company is already road testing a vehicle that, according to chief designer Richard Kim, will have many of the same features as the FFZERO1, but it “will have more than one seat, that’s for sure.”
Also at CES, Volkswagen revealed its new concept electric microbus with all-wheel drive. Reminiscent of VW buses of old, the Budd-e is also incredibly modern. You can open doors with a wave of the hand (like a Jedi!) and a steering wheel that’s basically a touch screen. It also is at the cutting edge of EV technology, claiming a battery charge of 80% in 30 minutes, top speed of 93 miles per hour, and a 233-mile range. Budd-e also marks the start of an era of EV focus for VW: the van features an all-new and proprietary EV architecture that can be used on other vehicles, big and small.
Volkswagen has reason to be excited about its new EV platform. VW had a rough 2015 with the revelation that its efficient clean diesel engine really was too good to be true. As Alex Kierstein writes in Autoblog, “a no-emissions future must look awfully good from scandal-wracked Wolfsburg, and so the Budd-e concept is Volkswagen's loaf-shaped crystal ball from which to predict it.”
Next week we’ll see reports back from the Detroit Auto Show, and we already know that advanced vehicles will have a major presence. We’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date on any new and electrifying announcements.