It’s back … and in a big way!
CES 2024 – the largest in-person independently audited tech event in the world – continues to gain momentum and is on track to surpass the 2023 version of the show in terms of the number of attendees, exhibitors and global media.
And that includes the vehicle technology and advanced mobility segment of the annual show.
While many of the typical auto shows around the globe have lost some of their luster, CES continues to grow in importance for automakers and automotive and mobility suppliers. In fact, longtime auto journalist and analyst John McElroy calls CES the world’s best auto technology show.
And the 2024 version of the event, scheduled for Jan. 9-12, 2023 (Jan. 7-12 if you include CES Media Days), in Las Vegas, will confirm that status.
CES 2024 POISED FOR GROWTH
“CES 2024 is growing! The show is on track to surpass CES 2023 exhibit space, with global companies debuting innovation that will solve our most pressing global challenges,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO at Consumer Technology Association (CTA). “… CES 2024 will shine a light on tech innovation that will change our world for the better.”
Transportation and mobility are among the top technology categories at the event, with the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) West Hall completely filled with the latest vehicle technology exhibits and the nearby West Plaza to be brimming with autonomous driving and ADAS demonstrations from some of the world’s leading mobility technology suppliers.
Automotive News, in a post-CES 2023 editorial, called the show “the world’s most significant auto show …” noting that “… CES is more about the future of technology than the present business of selling cars.”
So, if your company is working on vehicle technology that will help bring a smarter, safer, cleaner or comfortable driving experience, CES 2024 may be the right place to shine.
No other conference or expo in the world draws such a powerful and unique mix of forward-thinking, tech-oriented automotive, vehicle and mobility technology executives, auto journalists and reporters, influencers, and industry analysts as CES does.
CES 2024 – A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS
While CES has not quite returned in the post-COVID era to its record 180,000 attendees enjoyed in 2019, the 2024 version of the show is expecting:
All that said, CES 2024 promises to be an exciting showcase opportunity for the vehicle technology and mobility space. Attendees will see many exhibitors from around the world there, displaying and demonstrating some of the latest advanced software, sensor and service innovations which are enabling connected cars, autonomous driving, automated driving (ADAS) systems, electric vehicles, shared mobility and smart urban vehicles.
Among the automotive mobility companies that will be exhibiting at CES 2024 are BMW, Bosch, Caterpillar, Forvia, Honda, Hyundai, John Deere, Magna, Marelli, Mercedes-Benz, Schaeffler, Stellantis, Yazaki, Yanfeng (BPR client) and ZF, to name a few of the more well-known exhibitors.
AN AUTOMOTIVE SHOW WITHIN A CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW
When CES was launched more than 50 years ago as the Consumer Electronics Show, it brought together some 250 exhibitors, which included companies like LG, Motorola and Phillips, who were focused on consumer electronic products like TVs and radios.
Since then, though the show’s focus – and name (which changed from the Consumer Electronics Show to CES in a nod to its focus shift) – has continued to evolve and expand in both size and scope, as electronics and software have become a part of every industry sector and aspect of modern life, including vehicles, which are considered by some as “smartphones on wheels.”
In 2023, more than a dozen concept and new vehicles were launched at CES, and nearly 300 vehicle tech exhibitors graced the LVCC West Hall.
For CES 2024, some 318 (as of Oct. 6, 2023) vehicle technology and advanced mobility companies have already signed up to exhibit their wares. And more are likely to try to score a presence at the show before the show rolls around with the new year.
So, whether your company is a long-established global manufacturer or a tech start-up, if it is involved in the automotive/mobility technology supplier space and you are considering participating in CES 2024, here are some insights you need to know:
1. CES is one of the best venues for vehicle technology companies to demonstrate their wares. Many vehicles manufacturers, and literally hundreds of companies that provide advanced vehicle technologies – ranging from small, new start-ups from Silicon Valley, Israel and other mobility innovation hotspots to major top-tier suppliers like Bosch, Magna, Valeo and ZF – will be there.
At CES 2023, EVs and related charging technologies, and lidar for ADAS, were among the more well-represented vehicle technologies. At CES 2024, these technologies and others covering a broad range of approaches for safer, smarter, greener, more convenient, more efficient and more economical driving are expected. This includes products for software-defined vehicles, autonomous driving and ADAS, electric vehicles, connected cars, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, ride sharing and much more.
2. CES provides a ‘show-within-a-show’ for automotive and vehicle technology. With most of the vehicle technology exhibits concentrated at LVCC’s West Hall and the adjacent West Plaza, attendees will have a convenient one-stop shop – saving attendees miles of aisle-walking! – for all things related to automotive mobility.
Vehicle technology and advanced mobility exhibitors will account for some 20 percent of all CES exhibitors and more than 10 percent of the show’s total 2.9 million square feet of exhibit space.
3. CES attracts countless new mobility and automotive tech startups. As automakers and top-tier suppliers invest billions of dollars in advancing EV, ADAS, autonomous, connected cars, and software-defined vehicle technologies, software-defined vehicles approach, start-ups with a new approach to solving tough technical issues are popping up every day.
These start-ups hail from all around the world, and they are anxious to demonstrate their innovations for such products as camera, LiDAR, radar, facial recognition, V2X, IoT, software-defined architecture and other enabling technologies that will advance and enhance future mobility.
As CES is a major crossroad and gathering place for these start-ups, there is no better place to connect with them to initiate discussions and perhaps develop new working partnerships.
4. Many traditional automotive suppliers leverage CES. The number of legacy, global auto suppliers – especially the top-tier suppliers – that participate in CES had steadily increased, as they see the value in positioning themselves among the tech leaders.
We expect this trend to continue, as these “old-line” companies continue to transform themselves, evolve to meet new challenges and expand their product lines to offer advanced technologies for tomorrow’s vehicles – in support of emerging electric, software-defined, connected, automated, smart and shared vehicles.
5. CES is the place where vehicle and mobility thought leaders share their vision. In addition to the many exhibits and vehicle demonstrations, CES 2024, will gather hundreds, if not thousands, of thought leaders – all involved in the technology space and willingly sharing their wisdom, insights and vision through various presentations, talks and panels throughout CES week.
Among them are leaders from top vehicle manufacturers, start-up companies, automotive suppliers, government, research firms, industry associations, think-tanks, and other influencers – all coming together to offer their perspectives and encourage dialogue on a broad spectrum of mobility topics and issues.
For example, the cutting-edge CES Connect2Car sessions – the longest running panel series at CES – is hosted by the Mobile Electronics Association and its partners SAE International, COVESA and AASA. At C2C’s six panels at CES 2023, attendees heard new ideas, exchanged perspectives, and interacted with senior engineers, program managers, and technologists from startups, established technology players, aftermarket suppliers, and other technology enthusiasts while they explored the most important issues and topics in the mobility and connected vehicle space.
6. Competition for media attention at CES is hypercompetitive. Yes, it’s true that some 5,000 (or more) journalists will attend CES 2024. But it’s also true that vehicle technology suppliers cannot expect to automatically secure media attention there. Frankly, there’s just too much going on, too much to see, too much competition and too little time for reporters.
It’s a fact that most of the reporters who attend the show work for general or consumer-oriented media – so their focus is on electronics products for the average consumer – such as high-definition TVs, smart appliances, home systems and virtual reality products. Not automotive technologies.
Even in the best years, fewer than 300 of the 6,500+ journalists that attended CES actually covered the vehicle technology space – that’s less than 5 percent. So, applying that percentage to this year’s expected 5,000 media attendees, that means there might be 250 media potentially interested in your news.
Most of these reporters will be tied up with back-to-back press conferences for two solid days, as they participate in the major automaker and top-tier auto supplier press conferences that are held on the pre-show Media Days.
This intensive schedule of back-to-back and sometimes even overlapping of press events allows scant time for reporters to even try to cover the 300+ other vehicle technology suppliers who seek attention.
So, to secure media attention at CES, you will need a great story, a compelling pitch, great timing, lots of preparation, an experienced PR partner … and a little luck.
7. If you haven’t started yet, you’re running out of time. Your competitors have already started their PR planning. And with each passing day before you start laying the PR groundwork, you allow more of your options and opportunities to fade away.
So, if you really want to rise above the thousands of other exhibitors at CES 2024, you need to move now to develop your PR strategy, hammer out your action plan, and begin executing. The holidays will be here before you know it.
If you need help to accelerate your PR efforts, rely on a PR agency that has been there and done that – and has ample experience in helping automotive suppliers shine at CES. (We can offer some help here!)
One final tip: Since COVID, travel has become even more problematic. We suggest you embrace your inner Zen and give yourself extra grace and travel time during CES.
The airport, airlines, hotels, rideshare companies – they are all short-staffed. And when you add another 130,000 people to that Las Vegas scenario during CES, you can expect virtually everything will be overtaxed and overwhelmed – meaning getting around will take much longer than you might expect.
During peak times, be ready for long lines and longer waits for shuttle buses, monorail, taxis and Uber or Lyft drivers. We suggest allowing a cushion of 30-60 minutes for the runs between your hotel and the LVCC exhibit halls.
Author: Jim Bianchi
As president of Bianchi PR, Jim has helped B2B automotive and industrial suppliers to raise awareness and win business for more than 40 years. He has also attended and worked CES many times.
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