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Make no mistake: CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) has become the world’s greatest auto show.
That’s not just our hot take as an automotive PR firm. It’s the opinion of many auto-industry savvy people, including:
That’s quite a change from 15 years ago, when just one automaker participated in CES, in conjunction with Microsoft. This year, more than 300 automotive-related exhibitors showed their wares at CES, and countless other suppliers attended to network with customers, meet new suppliers, identify potential partners and gather industry intelligence and insight.
CES has become a hotbed of innovation, networking and news – not only for vehicle technology PR agencies like ours and for automotive industry media relations – but more importantly, for vehicle technology suppliers.
This includes startups and legacy suppliers involved in the connected car, ADAS, autonomous, and electric vehicle (EV) space, as well as traditional automotive suppliers of things like interiors, seats, seat belts and air bags, infotainment systems, lighting, wiring harnesses, and other more mundane products that are being reimagined for the new mobility world.
Though the official tally has not been released, preliminary estimates have CES2023 hosting some 3,200+ exhibitors and almost 120,000 attendees from 150+ countries around the world.
And the entire new West Hall (which increased show footprint by 40% by adding 600,000 square feet of exhibit space and 150,000 square feet of meeting space to the Las Vegas Convention Center) was sold out to vehicle technology exhibitors, with an automotive exhibit overflow spilling out into a section of LVCC’s expansive North Hall.
A more practical vibe in 2023
Observers noticed a change in the vibe at CES2023 over previous years. This year’s version of CES spotlighted technologies that are here and now, and supplier exhibitors showed innovations that customers can buy now or in the near-term, not a distant future.
So, it was more about ROI than blue sky.
Many observers noted that there was less attention on hype-driven, far-out, aspirational technologies like robotaxis, and more focus on practical ready-to-launch technologies such as EV charging systems, and in-car digital, connected experience technologies like augmented and virtual reality, reimagined headup displays, and smart cockpits.
And what dominated CES?
According to CES host CTA (Consumer Technology Association) CEO Gary Shapiro: “Practicality and profit (were) the buzz words at a more sober CES. There’s no question there’s been a shift,” with the Biden administration focusing “more on electric vehicles than they have on autonomous.”
Pete Bigelow, technology and innovation reporter for Automotive News, noted in his Shift podcast that at CES2023, EVs seem to have definitely hit an inflection point.
Also, technologies enabling the not-too-distant software defined vehicles were big at CES2023, punctuated by the CES launch of a new award series sponsored by Motor Trend that honors software defined vehicle innovators.
Vehicle Supplier Presence at CES Grows
Literally hundreds of automotive technology suppliers of all sizes – from global giants to startups – showed a wide range of technologies at CES2023, shared their news, looked for new partners and suppliers, and networked with customers.
(You can review the exhibitors list here – tick the box for vehicle technology)
To mention just a few activities hosted by some of the vehicle technology exhibitors at CES2023:
Also, CTO & co-founder Luis Dussan participated in the SAE Connect2Car panel on autonomy in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
CES2023 and the Media
In addition to an overall sense of connection and excitement, this year’s version of CES (which was the largest U.S. trade show held since 2020) generated lots of automotive and mobility news.
In fact, Wired magazine reported that there was more car news coming out of CES than from the vehicle-dedicated 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show.
And, Wired went on, “(CES) was an event where automakers and tech firms grew ever closer, providing a clearer picture of how they will work together, and, most importantly, how they will need each other to survive.”
Although CTA has not yet released the official tally yet, some 5,000 media professionals attended CES2023, so there were plenty of opportunities for media interaction.
At CES Media Day 1, hundreds of credentialed media attended three afternoon sessions:
On CES 2023 Media Day 2, news conferences were held back-to-back at hourly intervals at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center from 8:00 am through 6 pm, keeping reporters and analysts hopping all day.
Among major auto suppliers holding news events during the limited and coveted time slots on CES Media Day 2 were such notables as: Bosch, Forvia, Continental, Valeo, and AVL.
Concurrent press conferences hosted by non-auto exhibitors ran concurrently at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center, keeping Mandalay Bay the center of most media activity for the 1-1/2 days leading up to the actual exhibition.
Following those sessions were two keynote presentations, one by AMD’s Chair and CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, and the other by Chairman of the Board of Management for BMW AG, Oliver Zipse.
All in all, the CES Media Days created a charged, excited environment for the rest of the show.
Of course, many auto suppliers held media interviews or press events on the show floor or in private upstairs suites during the “public days” of the show, while their wares were available for demos and their subject matter experts were on hand to provide technical expertise.
Should An Auto Tech Supplier Participate in CES2024?
Vehicle tech suppliers may be wondering: Should we have a presence at CES next year?
That decision is yours.
A recent editorial in Automotive News, headlined “CES sells tech, but it doesn’t sell actual cars”, said: “… the reality is that CES is about the future …”
So if your company has a technology that can make a vehicle smarter, safer, cleaner, more efficient, more comfortable, more reliable, more productive or more fun, you may want to show that technology at CES’ world stage.
There’s no question that exhibiting at CES can be costly. And it’s an extremely cluttered, noisy and hyper-competitive environment.
It’s a difficult venue for getting your message through to your targets. It’s challenging to get the media attention you want amidst all the distractions. Las Vegas traffic is terrible, the crowds are both encouraging and daunting, and the logistical challenges make it almost impossible to maintain a tight schedule.
And yet, despite all that, it’s the best auto show there is. Everyone who is anyone is there. And there are tons of potential opportunities to build awareness, relevance and connection.
So, with all of this as background, the question for automotive technology suppliers is NOT if you can afford to participate in CES next year.
The real question is: Can your company afford NOT to?
For insights about leveraging your presence at CES2024, gained through our support of several clients at CES over the past several years, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1 248-269-1122.
And for information about participating in CES2024, keep an eye on the CES website here.