It’s been a tough year for auto shows, virtually every major global event this year, from New York to Paris to Beijing, canceled in the face of the coronavirus crisis. And what will happen in 2021 is far from certain, but the coming year could get off to a bad start.
Organizers now say they plan to go to an “all-digital” format for CES in January. Better known as the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual show has become a major event for automakers at a time when their vehicles are becoming increasingly high tech. Dozens of automakers and auto suppliers filled an entire wing of the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center in January 2020.
“Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it’s just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, the group that runs the annual show.
In a statement, organizers attempted to put a positive spin on the turn of events, suggesting there’s a positive side to staging CES online. In more normal years, the convention center is packed almost to the breaking point, making it difficult to get into many displays and presentations. By going online, the CTA suggested, virtual visitors will enjoy “an immersive experience, where attendees will have a front row seat.”
Exactly what that means is far from certain. Several traditional CES participants TheDetroitBureau.com spoke to asked what is meant by “an immersive experience.” Could it translate into three-dimensional virtual reality presentations? Or will it just be more familiar webinars using YouTube, WebEx, Skype, Zoom or any of the myriad other services that have become a familiar part of pandemic life?
There are other questions, as well, starting with whether automakers will see the need to participate in an online CES when they’re already rolling out many of their new products staging web events on their own.
“Do they need to be affiliated? That’s a good question,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst with IHS Markit. “There’s some value to still being affiliated. You’ll still have more eyeballs looking for news,” but it may be “less critical,” since manufacturers can stage their own online events and not have to pay whatever CES organizers will ask to be part of their very nontraditional event.
What seems clear is that the internet will remain the primary method for previewing new vehicles – as well as new automotive technologies and services – for some time to come. The Paris Motor Show, which would have been the next on the industry circuit in September, has been scrubbed. The Los Angeles Auto Show is still officially on the calendar in November but industry planners do not expect it to go off this year.
Now, with CES going virtual, there are plenty of questions about what’s to come in 2021, the Chicago Auto Show planned for February coming under the spotlight.
And it’s not just traditional auto shows. The alternative events that have been gaining traction lately, including not just CES but the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and even the Texas State Fair, have had to cancel due to the pandemic. Then again, so have virtually all other large public events, from political rallies to pro sports.
The auto industry has been struggling to work around the crisis, not only by staging online previews that have, in some cases, drawn millions of eyeballs for new hot products like the Ford Bronco, but also by shifting sales strategies. Most dealers now will let buyers shop online, at most requiring a few “wet” signatures to complete the deal.
That said, it is difficult to fully replace what is offered by an in-person event, whether a traditional car show or something like CES. But how soon the auto industry can return to anything resembling “normal” is far from clear in this pandemic era.
See 2021 Cadillac Escalade Get Driven With Blocked Windshield
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade test units are out and about, and first drives have already been orchestrated. A handful of journalists and YouTubers have started pouring out content about the full-size luxury SUV. That includes us with our Escalade First Drive Review.
The Fast Lane, however, took a different route and made videos that are out of the ordinary. We’ve seen the channel do some off-roading with the Escalade, something owners won’t probably do when they get their hands on one.
This time, The Fast Lane Truck does a review with the Escalade’s bevy of tech toys. And as crazy as you would expect from the channel, the folks there tried to drive the SUV with a blocked windshield and front windows. How? By using the Escalade’s VR function displayed on the instrument panel. The resulting video was bonkers, which you can watch on top of this page.
Speaking of, the driver was able to go around the course without issues, twice even, and you can see in the video that he even reached speeds of up to 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) before coming to a halt.
Before you raise your pitchforks, let us all be reminded that TFL Trucks did the test on a close course, so the test looked safe. Although as expected, both the driver and his passenger felt queasy after the virtual drive. But overall, at least now we know that you can still drive the new Escalade even if your windshield got broken – so as long as the front camera’s intact.
See the full crazy test on video and let us know what you think through the comments section below.
Fancy Acer Book RS By Porsche Design Comes With Carbon Fiber Cover
Porsche RS models are revered for their performance both on and off the race track, as they are admired for their flurry of carbon fiber materials. Porsche Design is back with another collaboration to showcase its styling prowess – this time it’s with Acer and its latest laptop.
Named the Porsche Design Acer Book RS, this fancy laptop signifies a new partnership between the two brands, something that fuses Porsche Design’s functional design philosophy and engineering mindset with Acer’s technological innovations and deep-rooted knowledge in the global computer segment.
The high-end notebook comes with a minimalist design, but a closer inspection reveals a 3k carbon fiber cover, striking a contrast against the diamond-cut CNC-machined chassis. With the use of this lightweight material normally used for race cars, the entire Acer Book RS only weighs 2.76 pounds (1.25 kilograms) while only measuring 0.63 inches (15.99 millimeters) thin.
Underneath the classy body, the Porsche Design Acer Book RS is equipped with the latest 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics and optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce®MX350 GPUs and 16 GB of RAM. The 14-inch FHD IPS3 touchscreen is covered with a layer of Antimicrobial4 Corning Gorilla Glass with an immersive 90% screen-to-body ratio.
The Porsche Design Acer Book RS will be available in North America with a starting price of $1,399.99. A premium package, which comes with equally great-looking accessories such as premium package i7 notebook, travel pack, and mouse, will be priced at $1,999.99. This chic Acer laptop will also be available in Europe and in China.
This isn’t the first time that Porsche designed a gadget. Back in 2018, a Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS came into fruition, which had a price tag that started at $1,800.
GMC Hummer EV’s WTF Mode Does A Weird Song And Dance Before Launching
First thing’s first. What the heck is Watts to Freedom? In short, it’s the GMC Hummer EV version of Tesla’s Ludicrous Plus launch mode, both in function and in its gimmicky nature. What does that mean? Ludicrous refers to Ludicrous speed from the classic 1987 Sci-Fi spoof Spaceballs. Meanwhile, the acronym for GMC’s Watts To Freedom is WTF, and we’re sure you know what else that stands for. But wait, there’s more
Engage WTF mode in the recently revealed GMC Hummer EV, and you won’t just launch to 60 mph in three seconds. For starters, the truck will hunker down a couple of inches before putting its GM-estimated 1,000 horsepower (735 kilowatts) to the ground. That’s a functional component of going fast, but less functional are the sounds that emanate from the Hummer EV’s speakers and animations that pop up on its digital screens.
GMC doesn’t offer a specific description of what this means, but the B-roll footage below takes us through the process starting at the 28-second mark. Once activated, a low-pitch humming sound reverberates through the speakers, and a snazzy animation on the main screen morphs to a third-person view of a Hummer EV poised on a space-themed runway. Meanwhile, the dash displays “Watts To Freedom” with stars and bars, along with a message that advises “repeated usage will cause accelerated wear on vehicle.” The driver can choose cancel or let’s go, which isn’t quite as catchy as I want my mommy or bring it on but hey, you get the point.
Selecting let’s go puts the system into motion. The truck lowers (which is also shown on the instrument display) and the driver is eventually prompted to press the brake and accelerator. This is the interactive part, as the driver must brake hard enough to get the all-important green checkmark to then floor it, all while the sound increases in both intensity and annoyance.
With the pedals mashed and the Hummer EV ready, release the brake and it’s off to the races. Presumably, drivers will be concentrating on the road while sprinting to 60 mph, so they won’t see the mini starfield flashing on the digital instrument board next to the speed readout. However, everyone will hear what sounds like the USS Enterprise going to warp speed through the speakers. At least it’s more pleasant than the low-resonance buzzing that starts it all off.
Is the GMC Hummer EV fast? Yes, it certainly is. However, experiencing all the pomp and circumstance that’s not at all similar to Tesla’s various quirky Easter eggs could easily be considered gimmicky in the best of circumstances. We’re at least curious to try it all in person as opposed to seeing a close-up on a video, but we suspect these aspects of WTF Mode might have more than a few people asking WTF GMC was thinking with all this.
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