This year’s first big car show, the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (AKA, CES 2023) held every year in Las Vegas, was a much-needed reminder that cars can be fun — and weird, and whacky, and entirely surprising.
The fact an Electronics Show — a place where companies traditionally go to show off smart toasters, robot dogs, USB-powered widgets and new TVs — is the first major car show of the year is telling. A few years ago, Detroit played host to January’s big automotive extravaganza, but the centre of gravity in the auto industry has shifted.
The future of cars, as any automotive executive will tell you, is digital. Software and connected services are often as important (or more so) than handling and horsepower. And, that’s fine, just so long as cars don’t become as utterly dull as smart-toasters and other digital appliances. Thankfully, these new concept EVs, motorcycles and flying boats from BMW, Polestar, Sony and others are proof that cars (and mobility writ large) will be anything but dull in 2023.
BMW i Vision Dee
Where to even begin with this thing? It changes colour, thanks to E-ink instead of paint. The design looks amazing, hands down BMWs best work in years. It’s all-electric, naturally. And, it involved Arnold Schwarzenegger and Knight Rider and a love story. Honestly, you should just watch this video. It’s a lot. Scratch that, it’s totally deranged, but it certainly got people talking. The car itself — the i Vision Dee — is exciting. It previews BMW’s most important upcoming product, the Neue Klasse, which is actually a family of products built on an all-new architecture. The Dee concept foreshadows the first Neue Klasse car, the 2025 BMW 3 Series. If the production model looks and functions anything like this CES 2023 concept, we’re sold.
There is no Canadian car company, which is a shame if you ask us. The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) of Canada thought so too, so they created Project Arrow, the world’s first all-Canadian EV. It’s mightily impressive, looking ready to go head-to-head with the likes of Fisker, Tesla and Rivian. Unfortunately, this SUV concept is a one-off intended to show-off Canadian suppliers’ ability in the EV space. (Neat fact: the entire chassis is 3D printed by Toronto-based company Xaba.) And hey, you never know: any local billionaires out there want to step up and start a Canadian car company?
Polestar Candela Electric Boat
Hot Swedish EV maker Polestar announced a partnership with the equally-hot Swedish boat maker Candela. The car company will provide battery and charging systems for Candela’s stunning hydrofoiling boats. Flying over the water at 30 knots, these vessels use 80 per cent less energy than similarly-sized conventional craft, the company claims. “I am fascinated by way Candela’s boats glide elegantly and efficient through, or better, over the water – amazing proof of the great aesthetics and experiences modern, sustainable technology can create,” said Polestar’s CEO Thomas Ingenlath. “That Polestar will be part of future projects with Candela by supplying an essential part for the innovative propulsion of their boats, is awesome,” he added.
Afeela — Sony Honda Mobility
No, it’s not a new drug — so no need to consult your doctor before taking Afeela — it’s a new car brand. Sony, with its long history of brilliant industrial design and quirky-tech prowess, is teaming up with Honda to make electric vehicles, starting with this one. The partnership is called Sony Honda Mobility, and the brand is Afeela. “We aim to realize a people-centric experience that provides functionality that people want,” says the company. The car is filled with screens, as you’d expect from Sony, and the brand aims to offer a Level 3 automated driving feature. The prototype pictured here previews the brand’s first car, slated to hit the road in North America in spring 2026. Pre-orders start in 2025. Afeela good about this.
People are spending a lot more downtime in cars these days, whether that’s because you’re in the back of an Uber stuck in traffic, or because you’re taking 20 minutes to charge up your EV. That downtime will soon get a little less boring, thanks to Nvidia. At CES 2023, the company announced its game-streaming service GeForce Now will come to cars, starting with Polestar and Hyundai models. “The ability to stream popular titles from gamers’ libraries along with dozens of free-to-play games will bring the in-vehicle infotainment experience to new heights,” said Ali Kani, vice president of automotive at Nvidia.
Electric motorcycles are nothing new at this point, but Estonian company Verge Motorcycles is throwing a high-performance hubless motor into the mix at CES 2023. That technology is the reason everyone is comparing this thing to Tron’s Light Cycles. As the manufacturer explains, “the electric motor is integrated straight into the back wheel. This also means that all of the power is transferred straight to the road. Integrating the motor into the back wheel creates more space in the middle of the bike for the battery pack. This allows for very low weight distribution, making handling the bike feel more nimble and light.” On the flip side, putting the motor in the rear wheel makes it heavy – adding “unsprung weight,” which is something engineers hate — so we’re curious to see how well these bikes work. Prices range from US$26,900 to $44,900, with the first U.S. deliveries slated for later this year.