For the past several years, the first week of January has been especially important for automakers, suppliers and new industry entrants.
It’s typically when the Las Vegas Convention Center and the surrounding area are reconfigured to accommodate the test drives, demonstrations and displays that are synonymous with the annual CES.
Hotels up and down the Las Vegas Strip are booked for that week months in advance. Hundreds of thousands of industry executives, leaders, enthusiasts and media from around the globe swarm to experience the latest developments in automotive technology, alongside other consumer electronics, that will influence the industry for years to come. Showgoers have seen everything from General Motors’ OnStar to Toyota’s Woven City.
This year, CES has been stripped of those experiences because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Instead, the automakers, suppliers and startups that have often revealed innovations in electrification and autonomy at the nation’s signature technology show will demonstrate their latest technologies virtually.
“What’s happened in this one year since CES 2020 is so dramatic and so changing in so many ways,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association, which owns and hosts the show.
But “the auto industry still needs information,” he said. “They need relationships and context. They need serendipity. They need to understand whether they can trust a vendor or not. Events like ours give an opportunity for people to come together.”
Because of this, Shapiro is bullish about the show