CES has been held in Las Vegas since the beginning of time (actually since 1978 and it started in Chicago way back in 1967) and over those years, many a tech trend has come and gone. Remember the year of IOT (that’s every year since 2013, apparently)? TVs, audio players, robots and blinking lights are always a mainstay, but in the past few years, something else has been creeping into the hallowed halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center: cars.
It’s not like CES was always devoid of vehicles. Audi’s had a booth in the North Hall since 2011. It was surrounded by aftermarket stereo and speaker booths that have been around for decades. Brands like Alpine, Cerwin Vega, Pioneer and Bazooka (remember Bazooka Bass tubes?) filled that hall with custom BMWs, Jeeps, Minivans and an inner-ear destroying amount of bass. But then cars started getting smarter.
Like all things car-related, it took time. Automakers typically take about five years to conceive of and introduce a new car. Way back in 2012 when social media was fun, smartphones were exciting, and in-vehicle tech was an afterthought for the average person, Audi was showing off concept cars in its heaven-inspired glowing white booth. Audi’s shrine to cars didn’t seem like it fit in with everything else at CES, but it was great fun to look at and explore. But times change.
At CES, automakers saw an opportunity to highlight the tech in their vehicles. To show journalists, analysts, and buyers for big electronics stores that a car is more than four tires and a steering wheel. Plus, why stare at a 100-inch TV when you could wander outside and sign up to drive a BMW or sit in an Audi R8?
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