CES 2021: On the Virtual Road
The Virtual CES remains a vital show for all things connected car-related
BY BRETT SOLOMON
Brett Solomon is the lead reporter and writer on 12V products and retailers for Dealerscope. He has been covering the mobile electronics industry for over 20 years.
The International CES has become as important as a major auto show for OEM manufacturers to show off their latest technologies. Additionally, the show remains the place that Tier 1 suppliers and aftermarket companies promote their technology wares. This year we can’t drive or fly to Vegas, but we still have our ears to the streets to see what will be important at the virtual show.
Mind-Reading Familiar brands such as Harman, Bosch and Continental all are vying for OEM attention for precious real estate on the dashboard. Taiwan-based Mindtronic AI is also vying for that space in addition to vying for the driver’s attention. The CES Innovation Award winner has designed a cockpit with a new Human Machine Interface (HMI) that uses 3D animation, personalization, and most importantly, gaze interaction to keep an eye on the driver. As our ADAS (Advanced Drivers Assistance Systems) move us more towards autonomous vehicles, the chances of nodding off at the wheel increase exponentially. We need new technologies to snap us out of our driver trance quickly until vehicles can drive themselves.
The company is bridging biometric technology and the HMI to allow seamless handovers from autonomous driving back to human driving. So, as you start to doze off, a loud audible alert gets your mind and body back in gear. A vehicle knowing when it should make the driver aware to intervene is the next step in our evolution to Level 5 autonomous cars. The Mindtronic cockpit alerts the driver through both audio and visual cues on a newly developed Heads-Up Display called the DMX. It will be another option for OEMs and suppliers to choose from in future instrumentation and driver displays. The FCC, Car Electronics and Communications Who would have thought that the government bureaucracy would be involved in vehicle safety systems? But, with the onslaught of V2X communications, the federal government had to step in to ensure uniformity. About 20 years ago, it was thought that DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) would be the standard for V2X and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) communications. Toyota even went so far as to design the technology that was already being implemented into most of its fleet this year based on a Wi-Fi standard (those unused black boxes in Camrys will probably confuse techs 20 years from now). Many aftermarket ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) manufacturers were also eyeing Toyota as the creator of the de facto standard of V2X communications.
The FCC also will be looking into if even more bandwidth and spectrum is needed for future ITS applications. The birthdate of the autonomous car will help determine that outcome.
The FCC has told Toyota to hold off as 5G gains momentum, and it does suck for the automaker who must foot the bill for the now-outdated telematics equipment. The FCC ruled that the lower DSRC part of the spectrum would be better used for consumer Wi-Fi, and the higher 5G part of the spectrum would be a better solution for V2X communications. A few months back, we looked at Harman’s roadmap for the 5G spectrum and implementing new telematics safety into vehicles. According to the FCC, “The new rules also will improve automotive safety by reserving the upper 30 MHz of the [5G] band for Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) services and designating C-V2X as the technology standard for safety-related transportation and vehicular communications. C-V2X uses cellular protocols to provide direct communications between vehicles and obstacles like other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, and road workers, and to receive safety information from roadside transmitters. C-V2X has gained momentum both domestically and internationally.
While the Commission designated Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) services as the technology standard for ITS services over 20 years ago, DSRC has not been meaningfully deployed, and this critical mid-band spectrum has largely been unused for decades. Today’s action therefore begins the transition away from DSRC services — which are incompatible with C-V2X — to hasten the actual deployment of ITS services that will improve automotive safety.” The FCC also will be looking into if even more bandwidth and spectrum is needed for future ITS applications. The birthdate of the autonomous car will help determine that outcome.
Uber & Lyft in a Pandemic – Some Say No. Enter, Audi reLease.
Mobility as a Service (MAAS) has become wildly popular – until you introduce a pandemic into the equation. As a manufacturer, Audi has always been a leader in introducing new technology at CES. This year, who would have thought that the company would pivot to its financial services arm for something truly unique? That something is short-term leases designed for customers wary of rideshare vehicles. It will be called Audi reLease and will feature gently used sedans and SUVs. Audi has gotten itself into the car rental game in the past with its Silvercar service available at airports. That service is unique because you don’t need contact with any human to rent a car. The customer bypasses the long-line counter desks and reserves a vehicle right from their phone.
Audi thought the same could be done for short-term leases. “We have heard loud and clear from consumers that there is a gap in the car ownership and usage landscape. Whether it’s because of concerns stemming from COVID-19, the cultural shift toward changing jobs and geographic locations more frequently, or other life changes, traditional lease and finance terms aren’t meeting the need for flexible access to vehicles,” said Anthony Bandmann, president and CEO, Audi Financial Services. “We are excited to be at the forefront of the industry and provide consumers a cost-efficient way to select the luxury vehicle they want and drive it without having to make a long-term commitment.” Daniel Weissland, president of Audi of America notes: “This new offering is part of Audi of America’s continued efforts to help put the customer at the center of how we do business. The global pandemic has transformed how our new and existing customers travel and this program offers them a new way to access premium mobility.” Right now, the reLease program is to be available in Maryland dealers outside of Washington, D.C. and if it goes well, will come to a dealer near you.
“The global pandemic has transformed how our new and existing customers travel and the Audi reLease program offers them a new way to access premium mobility.”
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
VOXX Debuts Auto Oxide to Help Combat the Virus VOXX will be showing its usual automotive aftermarket electronics, in addition to a new disinfectant for retailers who have become detailers, called Auto Oxide. It is safe to use on all automotive interior surfaces and according to VOXX, is effective at killing coronavirus, influenza, norovirus, H1N1, hepatitis A, B and C, and RSV by eliminating the source. “Our dealers, customers, and consumers come first, and with that comes their health,” Aron Demers, senior VP at VOXX, says. “These days, clean work areas are now more important than ever and VOXX is proud to bring Auto Oxide to the U.S. market. Having a solution that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a major win for our dealers as they are able to offer their customers a clean vehicle on return.” While some naysayers promote that cleaning could be theater, it shows your customers you will take the extra step on the installation. More importantly, some vehicles are sketchy when they pull into the bay, and it is nice to have something handy to spray down high-touch surfaces before installation techs get to work.
VOXX is proud to bring Auto Oxide to the U.S. market. Having a solution that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a major win for our dealers as they are able to offer their customers a clean vehicle on return.
VOXX Debuts Auto Oxide to Help Combat the Virus VOXX will be showing its usual automotive aftermarket electronics, in addition to a new disinfectant for retailers who have become detailers, called Auto Oxide. It is safe to use on all automotive interior surfaces and according to VOXX, is effective at killing coronavirus, influenza, norovirus, H1N1, hepatitis A, B and C, and RSV by eliminating the source. “Our dealers, customers, and consumers come first, and with that comes their health,” Aron Demers, senior VP at VOXX, says. “These days, clean work areas are now more important than ever and VOXX is proud to bring Auto Oxide to the U.S. market. Having a solution that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a major win for our dealers as they are able to offer their customers a clean vehicle on return.” While some naysayers promote that cleaning could be theater, it shows your customers you will take the extra step on the installation. More importantly, some vehicles are sketchy when they pull into the bay, and it is nice to have something handy to spray down high-touch surfaces before installation techs get to work.
Accele Electronics Help Combat the Virus at the Drive-Thru As in-car protection seems to be the rage, Accele Electronics has also developed a special hand sanitizer dispenser for the car. The SNG400 Touchless Hand Sanitizer is designed to fit in standard cupholders in late-model vehicles and is powered by 4 AA batteries. It sure makes it easier after you pick up your items at the drive-thru or bank. It is great to have something dispense sanitizer before you put dirty hands all over the steering wheel or infotainment unit. Accele is also promoting the SNG400 to car fleets where vehicles have multiple drivers.
Honda Debuts the New Civic One of the most customized vehicles in mobile electronics shops is the venerable Honda Civic. No other model is as popular for audio customization because of its prolific presence in the market coupled with its typical youthful buyer. Plus, the fact they are so darned reliable – someone once joked if it was even necessary to put oil in the Civic to still get it to run to 300,000 miles (yes, you need to). Honda has given the world its first glimpse of the all-new 2022 Civic with the unveiling of a prototype on Twitch last month to keep in sync with its youthful customers. It is showcasing a fresh, sporty and upscale new look for its popular Civic. The prototype model teases the arrival of an all-new Civic lineup, beginning in late Spring 2021, with the launch of the Civic Sedan followed by the sporty and personal Civic Hatchback, performance-focused Civic Si, and the ultimate high-performance Civic: Type R. The 11th-generation Civic draws inspiration from timeless elements of Honda design, including a low and wide stance and an open and airy cabin.

One of the most customized vehicles in mobile electronics shops is the venerable Honda Civic. No other model is as popular for audio customization because of its prolific presence in the market coupled with its typical youthful buyer.
The new Civic will build on that appeal with an even sportier, fun-to-drive new chassis, more powerful and fuel-efficient powertrains and multiple new Civic-first features and technologies. On the infotainment front, the 2022 Civic’s new fully digital instrument panel is free of visual clutter, minimizing cut lines and breaks to give drivers a clean and clear view of the road ahead. An all-digital driver’s meter cluster and a new 9-inch full-HD display audio touchscreen is mounted atop the low-set instrument panel. Honda blended the display into the dashboard, but you can expect dash kit manufacturers and OEM integration specialists to answer the call immediately to develop aftermarket solutions. We expect Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to be on board top-level EX models, but it is not quite clear how the bulk of the lesser LX models will be sold. But we are confident there will be plenty of opportunities for aftermarket mobile electronics retailer to capitalize on the wildly popular and still customizable Civic.
The Industry School Launch We have previously spoken about the upcoming The Industry School, specifically for 12-volt retailers. The mobile electronics portal for learning will be a welcome destination for both manufacturers and retail staff. Head Proctor Solomon Daniels has set a launch date of Jan. 11 to take advantage of products that will be launched virtually at CES 2021. He states, “If you are a manufacturer, The Industry School means being part of a larger, collaborative community in which we bring learners to you, and your trainings stay on to potentially educate thousands of industry professionals over time. Best of all, detailed analytics of your training efforts give you the ultimate measure of your training ROI. For industry professionals, The Industry School is a single online destination to learn career-advancing information and train on the products you sell, on your own schedule and from wherever you are, anytime. Built-in tools help you retain information, build your knowledge base and celebrate your learning achievements.” Everyone in the industry is invited to the launch. “Launch Day is more than just the day we open to learners,” explains Daniels. “It will mark the first time we as an industry have a training destination available and always accessible to every mobile electronics professional. We want to have a strong start to our industry’s new learning community.”