FCA turns its back on Detroit to pursue innovation
Reports have emerged that Fiat Chrysler Automobile will choose the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to reveal its latest car to the world, ending its romance with the Detroit Auto Show. For the US powerhouse this is an incredible statement. However, this can only point in one direction; the automaker must consider its next vehicle as a technology-focused model, choosing mobility over the traditional car we have become so accustomed to. This is a significant step in the overhaul of the old automotive industry and FCA understands that it must jump on board as early as possible, in order to continue its recovery and grow in the market.
Over the past few years, CES has drawn in more and more automakers, who want to showcase new innovations and technologies that may not be as welcome in Detroit, which still heavily focuses on performance and driving pleasure. This is not to say that the Detroit Auto Show is lacking in any way, but that new events are thriving off the new era of the connected car. Software suppliers and mobility providers now have a podium to stand on, following many years of rejection in the car world, as OEMs are now realising the potential in the segment. For example, CES 2016 saw the Volkswagen Group bounce back from Dieselgate with the promising ‘Visionary I.D’, Faraday Future displayed its advanced prototype and BMW revealed its innovative gesture control. Yes, you could argue that there is now a place for this sort of thing at the Geneva or Frankfurt Motor Shows, although automakers feel that a technology-driven event like CES is the perfect way to exhibit ideas to the intertwined automotive and software industries. Detroit has dominated US auto shows, however this will start to change in upcoming years, once autonomous software and mobility services develop further.
In short, technology is becoming more attractive than the car itself for consumers, which is why I am not surprised with FCA’s decision to drop out of the biggest car show in the world, leaving the stage to the likes of BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota to go head-to-head with new models. It is likely that FCA will be revealing an autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivan - developed with Google, following a joint-venture - but nothing has been confirmed yet. I believe that, despite dropping away from its biggest show, FCA has made a very confident and positive decision and, if pulled off, it could be extremely beneficial for Sergio Marchionne’s recovering business.
Alex Kreetzer - News Editor
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