Kia CES infotainment conceptEnlarge Photo
Door-to-door infotainment. Foot-wide TFT screens already are found in today's Mercedes S-Class and Land Rover Range Rover. Why stop there? With the cost of screens plummeting, expect to see a full-width installation in the next five years--something like the infotainment concept Kia showed at CES. One adaptive screen for the driver uses eye motions to change the content displayed, while the other is dedicated to passenger use for functions from navigation to in-car connectivity, even to video playback.
Chevrolet cars now with 4G LTE capabilityEnlarge Photo
Higher-speed data connectivity. The next generation of cars that communicate with each other--while also delivering lots of entertainment on the go--will require faster data connections than are available today. At CES, both GM and Audi confirmed that their lineups will offer LTE data powered by AT&T. And in a break with the recent past, Audi also says that its cars' data won't require a separate plan: with the switch from T-Mobile to AT&T, owners can simply add their car as a device to a Mobile Share plan.
Audi Piloted Driving demo--parking
Audi Piloted Driving demo--parkingEnlarge Photo
Cars that drive themselves. Autonomous driving is a strong focus for the auto industry--cars that can steer, brake, and accelerate by themselves, leaving the driver free to perform other tasks. A degree of autonomous capability exists in some cars today, but Audi says that it is pushing to have a self-driving car on the road within two to five years. Its "piloted driving" now enables prototypes to drive unassisted on freeways at speeds of up to 40 mph, but it plans to boost that to 100 mph, with lane-change and off-ramp capability, within five years. As of now, only four states permit testing of autonomous cars on public roads, though automakers are working with legislatures to permit the technology to go mainstream.
Toyota FCV ConceptEnlarge Photo
More fuel-cell cars. Toyota's FCV concept is an indicator of how serious carmakers still are about hydrogen-powered fuel cells, despite high cost and complexity. Toyota promises it will have a roadgoing version of the concept by 2015, and says it's achieved a 300-mile range on a single tank of fuel.