LAS VEGAS -- More than 2,000 miles from Detroit, what may be the youngest automaker in the world revealed its first car. Just don't call it a car. And don't call the company an automaker.
"We're not an automotive company," said Shaina Denny, marketing director for Eli, the Beijing startup that debuted last week alongside its all-electric Eli Zero production vehicle here at the CES technology expo. "It is a "car,'" she said, air quotations included. "But we're really trying to treat it as more of a device."
Automakers, suppliers and automaker wannabes descended on Las Vegas last week to talk to the media and the public, but primarily to talk among themselves. Meetings took place across the city throughout the week -- in rooms conveniently built into the company stands on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center, in meeting rooms and restaurants at Mandalay Bay, and in private suites in fancy casino-free hotels.
CES has become the show where startups and suppliers come to convince the world -- and the rest of the auto industry -- that they are on the cutting edge.
"This is an opportunity," said Mark Wakefield, managing director of the enterprise improvement group at AlixPartners. "If you don't know what Supplier A does, this is an opportunity to see some of that."
CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, now just goes by its initials, stressing that it is not aimed at only consumers. The Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, says that of the 177,000 people who attended the show in 2016, 7,545 were media and 68,331 identified themselves as senior-level executives.