The technology event is embracing the situation.
There was a time when the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held annually in Las Vegas, was just that - electronics and other cool new gadgets. Not anymore. The fine line between tech and automobiles no longer exists. Things like autonomous driving, all-electric platforms, and other advanced features being developed for the next generation of vehicles have dominated CES for the past few years. There's just one problem right now: Covid-19. Although CES 2021 isn't scheduled to begin until early January, show organizers have recognized the new reality.
CES is going all-digital for 2021, the Consumer Technology Association has announced. "Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of Covid-19, it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person," CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said.
For now, organizers intend to return to a live Las Vegas show in 2022 where the best components of both digital and live formats will be implemented. Along with major automakers and other corporations, CES presents an opportunity for start-ups to demonstrate their latest products as well. At last year's show, for example, Henrik Fisker's new car company revealed the Fisker Ocean all-electric crossover. Less than a year later, the company has announced it's joining forces with other investors and will soon issue an IPO.
At the other end of the spectrum, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its striking VISION AVTR concept. Hyundai debuted something very unusual: the Elevate walking car concept, and back in 2016, the Chevy Bolt EV made its first live appearance.
Aside from concept vehicles, mainstream automakers have chosen CES to reveal new infotainment systems and related features slated for production models. Prior to the all-digital format switch announcement, one of the biggest CES 2021 draws was going to be from Elon Musk's The Boring Company. It was originally scheduled to start using its new people-moving service at the time, and that can't be done online-only, quite obviously.
CES 2021 will definitely be very different from all previous years, but show organizers appear to be embracing the all-digital format. It is a tech show, after all.