Electric cars at CES? Yes, really. Here’s why

Chevvy's Bolt concept making its debut in Detroit last year. Image via Wikimedia Commons
Chevvy's Bolt concept making its debut in Detroit last year. Image via Wikimedia Commons

This month’s tech conversation will be dominated by home technology and wearables, with all the major manufacturers expected to debut new products in these categories at CES this week. But those lanes of conversation will have to make way for a category that’s been sighted in the rearview mirror for some time now, but has yet to take off: electric cars.

Besides being every tech fanboy’s wet dream brought to life, the Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas each year, also sets the trends for the year ahead. And one of those is electric cars. Why? Because manufacturers are determined to make money off them. Plus, governments want them to.

TLDR: Car manufacturers are accelerating into the show to stoke consumer enthusiasm for battery-powered vehicles, even as regulatory demands for them increase.

Who’s going electric?

Volkswagen and General Motors are among those expected to disclose new details of their electric vehicle strategies at CES, Reuters reports. Herbert Diess, head of Volkswagen, is expected to reveal at CES on Tuesday a prototype electric vehicle offering “affordable long-distance electric mobility,” the company said.

VW watchers expect it will be a variant of a microbus – linking the German automaker’s plans to launch 20 battery-powered or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2020 to a beloved model from the past. The move is part of an attempt to counter damage from revelations last year that software in its diesel vehicles cheated emissions tests.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, scheduled to give a CES address on Wednesday afternoon, is expected to promote GM’s vehicle electrification efforts, Reuters said. Barra is expected to show a production version of the Chevrolet Bolt electric car, which GM has said will offer a 200-mile (320-km)range and sell alongside a new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid starting next year. The Bolt was first displayed as a concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Chevvy's Bolt concept making its debut in Detroit last year. Image via Wikimedia Commons
Chevvy’s Bolt concept making its debut in Detroit last year.
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Elsewhere, China’s smoggy skies are driving consumers to find electric answers. Faraday Future, the secretive startup backed by Chinese Internet billionaire Jia Yueting, will also reveal an electric luxury car at CES – despite the loss of its chief battery architect this month. The company has announced plans to invest $1 billion in a factory near Las Vegas.
Some of these moves come as several countries demand that automakers to increase electric vehicle sales quotas, or are considering doing so – amnong them California.

But will consumers bite? Particularly here in Dubai? With oil at super-cheap prices, there just doesn’t seem to be the demand for hybrid and electric vehicles. Oil’s well, but this story mayn’t end well.