LAS VEGAS --- The electronics and auto industries will work even closer in the second century of the automobile than they did in the first, General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner said Tuesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
In an unprecedented appearance before the giant electronics show, Wagoner outlined a series of current GM technologies, such as accident avoidance systems, as well as future technologies like vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The technologies all point to a convergence of the auto and electronics industry that is literally transforming the automobile and the global auto industry.
The auto and electronics industries have traveled similar paths for a long time, sometime arm in arm, he said. If the automobile were invented today, Im pretty sure it would be here at CES.
Wagoner was the first automotive CEO to deliver a keynote at the show, which has taken place for 41 years and bills itself as the worlds largest tradeshow for consumer technology. His appearance underscores the growing importance of technology in the automobile.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, Wagoner said, has the potential to revolutionize the industry. In such V2V systems, which are in the research stage, cars equipped with transponders will talk to each other to help prevent collisions, even slowing down vehicles before the driver is aware a danger exist.
Wagoner began his address plugging the benefits of GMs OnStar telematics technology. He said one unexpected benefit of Onstar had been to teach GM about the faster engineering and development cycles of the consumer electronics industry.
He said GM was about to roll out the eighth generation of Onstar technology in the last 12 years. Which is, as I suspect you all know is somewhat faster than our automotive development cycle, he said.
Wagoner entered the stage in the passenger seat of a concept Chevrolet Volt, which GM introduced a year ago at the Detroit auto show.
Wagoner also used the show to unveil the concept Cadillac Provoq, a fuel-cell vehicle that uses the same E-flex architecture as the Volt.
The Provoq (pronounced Provoke) was the first vehicle to have its world premiere at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The vehicle is powered by GMs 5th generation fuel cell stack, supplemented with a lithium ion battery pack.
At its core Cadillac is all about luxury, design and technology, so its fitting that our premium brand should be propelled by the most advanced propulsion in the industry, Wagoner said.
Wagoner said the Provoq is the first vehicle to extend the the E-flex propulsion system beyond small cars to GMs luxury global crossover architecture.
The vehicle features a solar panel integrated into the roof that helps power systems such as interior lights and high-performance audio. It also has brake-by-wire and shift-by-wire systems.
Ford, suppliers make a splash
Ford Motor Co. chose the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show to debut its Sync system, which it developed with Microsoft Corp. Sync allows drivers to operate music players and Bluetooth-equipped cell phones by voice and to hear their text messages read to them as they drive.
On Sunday, Ford revealed enhancements to Sync during Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates keynote address. The enhancements include a service that automatically calls 911 if a vehicles airbag deploys in an accident.
The giant Consumer Electronics Show devotes an entire convention hall to in-vehicle technology, largely focusing on aftermarket equipment. Original equipment technology is represented, however.
Delphi Corp., Visteon Corp., Continental AG and Magna International Inc. were among the major auto suppliers showcasing current or future products at the electronics show.
GM is showcasing the Volt, and its driverless Chevrolet Tahoe, nicknamed Boss, during the show. The vehicle, developed in partnership with Continental, Caterpillar Inc. and Carnegie Mellon University, recently won an autonomous vehicle race sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department.