In past years, the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center has evolved into a mini auto show, with ever more manufacturer support, With this year’s show butting up against Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, that trend has been cut back quite a bit, but there were still quite a few things to see.
With fewer cars on display (and with GM conspicuously absent) there was room for a pavilion full of 3D printers, which you can see in the photo at top. I have to say that 3D printing really should have been a great segment of this show, but expected improvements in speed and quality have never materialized and so 3D printing remains something for industrial prototyping instead of the must-have home accessory we all thought it would be. There was one vendor who was able to 3D print metal which was cool, and another one which was (apparently) 3D printing another 3D printer, which is kind of scary. But for the most part 3D printing as a consumer technology is dead, and its position at the far distant end of the North Hall proves it.
Several manufacturers were there including Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan, and they all showed self-driving car prototypes that looked really hokey. The real hit of the show was the new Fisker, shown above. This is a new luxury electric from Henry Fisker who invented the failed Fisker Karma. This new car is not from the same company that did the Karma. It looks gorgeous and is certainly a conversation starter but it’s going to be hard to trust Fisker since the first car is effectively an orphan now.
The Chinese-backed Byton was there and also drew a fair amount of attention but the general feeling was it would never actually see production. The hit of last year’s show, the Faraday Future, was missing and that’s not surprising considering persistent rumors that the company could fold any day.
Also missing was electric car pioneer Tesla, which is the only new company to succeed in this space. (Nissan has actually sold the most electric cars but they are a very traditional company which Tesla isn’t.) I guess Tesla’s demand is so high that they just don’t need to advertise. It must be a good position to be in.
Overall the North Hall was characterized by a bit more apathy than I was expecting. The crowds were smaller, the manufacturer support was smaller, and even the makers of big speakers kept the volume down. And then, of course, in the middle of the day there was a power failure that basically killed the mood for the rest of the day. Luckily by that time our team was on our way somewhere else.