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This is what car makers think the future of driving looks like

BMW i Vision Future

BMW had a major presence at CES. In a popular, proprietary tent outside the Las Vegas Convention Centre, the company displayed a next-generation i8, fully electric with an interior redesigned around autonomous driving. Tools such as navigation and smartphone connection are operated with a gesture of the hand over three sensors built into the new dashboard (as incorporated in the new 7-Series). The command is confirmed with a touch of a button on the steering wheel. Ergonomics are designed so driver and passenger can converse easily as the car drives itself. A massive, curved 21-inch display is mounted on the right side of the dash, allowing both driver and passenger to play with it. The exterior magnetizes the eyes, supersonic sleek in structure, painted in a gingery brown.


Volkswagen Budd-e

1960s-era films of the long-gone VW Bus – a vehicle made for tripping, mudding, beaching, painting in psychedelic art -- displayed on screen during Volkswagen’s presentation at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, before a future-generation model rolled on stage. While the all-electric BUDD-e takes its exterior cue from the beloved van, the interior is pristine white and there’s technical wizardry galore. Rather than hauling open a creaking side door, all it takes is a wave of your hand. When the doorbell rings at home, it also rings in the car and video of the guests is streamed into the monitor. Still, the premise is the same – meant for fun. Only in modern days, the idea is that the passengers will load their tablets with pictures, video and music for the journey, and the BUDD-e will wirelessly aggregate the content into a playlist to be displayed on two large screens that fill most of the dashboard. Astrid Kassner, a ‘user experience engineer’ with the company, says, “Instead of staring at your own devices, you experience the content as a group.”



Faraday Future, a company led by former Tesla executives and a lead designer fresh off BMW’s i3 project, made a splash before CES began by presenting a modern-day Batmobile, in advance of breaking ground on a $1-billion production facility in north Las Vegas. The fantasy car is a 1,000-horsepower, fully electric, all-wheel-drive, optionally autonomous car that seats only the driver inside a futuristic carbon-fibre cockpit. The dashboard swings over the driver’s shoulder after he or she slides into place.

Photos: The 1,000-horsepower electric concept built by poached Tesla talent

The teardrop-profile exterior is two-toned – black in front, silver in the rear with a gloss finish. Lead designer Richard Kim crafted “aero tunnels” to let air flow through the vehicle, reducing drag. They were shy on specifics but imagine going from zero to 100 km/h in, oh, about three seconds. The car could feasibly be built some day. All Faraday’s electric vehicles, ranging from compact to pickup, will be built using the same architecture.

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Audi Virtual Dashboard

It's what's on the inside that matters. As auto makers gear up for a future when drivers are left twiddling their thumbs on Twitter, the car cabin is getting all the attention. This year at CES, Audi gave us an interactive preview of their virtual dashboard. There's nary a button in sight. Instead, three touchscreens with haptic feedback surround the driver."In the future, the entire system will get to know the customer and their habits and preferences, then proactively support them," said Ricky Hudi, Audi's executive vice president of electronic development. As fanciful as the concept sounds, Hudi told us this virtual dashboard will be in production as early as next year.

Tom Maloney

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet believes range anxiety will be appeased with 320 km capacity on a single charge in good weather, as the average daily commute in North America is 48-64 kilometres. A small crossover, it demonstrated surprising torque coming through a corner into a straightaway. With a single engine, it goes from 0-to-100 km/h in about 7 seconds. Fun to drive. The car is aimed at ride-sharing groups (GM invested $500-million (U.S.) in Lyft this week). Using OnStar, a code can be sent to a renter with billing sent automatically. Inside, there’s a lot of modern tech such as EV navigation mapping that identifies the most efficient route to your destination, and plenty of safety features too including an optional camera in back that displays on the rear-view mirror. It’s priced at $37,500 U.S. before rebates, which converts to $52,700 according to the Bank of Canada, on Jan. 8, 2016.

Kia Soul EV Autonomous Vehicle

Kia pulled the curtain off its autonomous vehicle leading up to CES. On the inside, the car looks like any other Soul EV, except for a few different displays. However, it is the technology that is a stepping stone to the fully autonomous car – Kia is planning to produce one by 2030. At CES, Kia announced its Drive Wise brand, the term Kia is giving autonomous driving features like automatic emergency braking and active cruise control. At a press event at its California proving ground the day before CES, Kia showed off what they call a ‘partially' autonomous car, which can park itself, turn corners, stop at stop signs and change lanes on the highway without human interaction. The company plans to spend $2 billion by 2018 on autonomous features and be in market with a car like this by 2020.

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