I enjoy following the tech news that emanates from Las Vegas during the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) each year. It’s a good way to stay on top of technology innovation, most of which is happening in the consumer space these days, and a fun way to research future tech purchases, or decide if there’s something worth waiting for in the next 6-12 months.
An interesting development this year was that an automaker, Ford, was a primary sponsor of the show, and unveiled its Fusion Energi model at the show. Aside from an awkward name, the car looks fairly decent, claims 100-MPGe (I’m still not sure what that pesky “e” means, but I’ll interpret that as “really fuel efficient”), and is loaded with technology usually reserved for higher end cars.
I current drive an Audi A4 wagon that’s exceptionally fun to drive, and also fairly advanced on the tech front, although surprisingly Ford seems to have it handily beat. I’ve wondered why it’s taken this long for automakers to integrate mobile devices beyond basic hands free functionality, since they’re now essentially computers and a broadband pipe. Ford claims your phone can do everything from provide music from a streaming service like Pandora, to allowing the car to read text messages, seeming to integrate smartphones in more than a cursory manner.
I have few doubts the Ford’s driving experience will be “uninspired” compared to my current ride, but I’ve come to the gnawingly painful realization that most of my driving is uninspired at best. I’m usually heading to a meeting, grocery run or other mundane activity, or have my 2-year old strapped in the back. Beyond that, I’m frequently on long, straight highway runs, where entertainment, technology and efficiency are more beneficial than cornering ability and acceleration. Certainly not a recipe for “spirited” driving. When I do plan on hitting the twisties, my motorcycle is usually the weapon of choice.
The success of the Prius, a goofy-looking vehicle that drives like a one-legged duck on land seems to indicate there’s a market for efficient, tech-heavy vehicles that Ford is aggressively attacking. Having grown up with Japanese and European autos being the pinnacle of quality while the Detroit Three were mocked as inferior creates some internal cognitive dissonance, but I’m ready to admit a Ford will be on my list of candidates when it comes time for my next auto.