The New York International Auto Show opens to the public this weekend, and upon entering the Javits Center attendees will be bombarded with new cars, SUVs, trucks and even a handful of supercars that will most likely be out their price range. Here’s our primer for the stuff that really matters.
Most Futuristic Looking Car: Genesis Essentia
Anyone who grew up on dog-eared copies of Popular Science probably assumed we’d be riding around in self-driving cars while viewing the passing scenery through glass or plastic bubble roofs. The self-driving car part is playing out right now, but the glass or plastic bubble part seems to have been left in the recycling bin. Now, here’s the Genesis Essentia, an all-electric performance concept with a transparent hood and a fully retro-futuristic bubble roof. The Hyundai-owned luxury brand is certainly making a statement with its first EV.
Most Surprising Announcement: Jaguar and Waymo
The news that Waymo would be adding up to 20,000 electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs to its fleet of self-driving taxis threw a lot of people for a loop. On the surface, yes kind of weird. Of all the cars Waymo could have chosen to operate alongside its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, why the I-Pace? Since its debut in Geneva, car writers have sprained their wrists trying to find new and different ways to compare the I-Pace to Tesla’s Model X. But before it could even hit the dealer lots, Jaguar has already made a multi-million-dollar deal with Waymo. The Alphabet company clearly is drawn to automakers with no autonomous vehicle program of their own, as we saw previously with Fiat Chrysler. We’ll know more in 2020, when these cars are expected to start racking up up to a million trips a day for Waymo’s soon-to-be-launched ride-hailing service.
Most Interesting Use of AI: Subaru Forester’s DriverFocus
I think it’s safe to say that the Subaru Forester is probably the last car I would have expected to have something cutting edge like facial recognition technology. The Japanese automaker is known for its dependability and resale value, but hardly its embrace of buzzworthy tech. Which made it kind of surprising to hear that the new Forester would have a brand new feature for the brand called DriverFocus. Subaru describes it as a “driver monitoring system that uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction.” The feature, which the automaker claims is the first in the segment, can recognize up to five drivers and can remember their pre-set preferences for seat position, climate, and infotainment. No details on which company is supplying Subaru with the biometric technology, but expect to see more automakers installing these kind of gizmos in their effort to reduce traffic accidents.
Most Generous With Semi-Autonomous Technology: Nissan
The Nissan Altima’s latest redesign includes an unexpected and welcome treat: ProPilot Assist, the automaker’s semi-autonomous driver assist system. Nissan hasn’t announced the Altima’s pricing yet, but it’s likely to start in the low-$20,000 range. Compare that to the Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise (around $71,300) or a Tesla Model S with Autopilot (around $77,500), and you can see why Nissan deserves your attention. It’s a separate question about whether ProPilot Assist can measure up to Super Cruise or Autopilot, both of which set the bar fairly high for driver assist systems. But Nissan’s commitment to making its technology available at a fraction of the price of those luxury automakers is a really big deal.
Video: Top 9 Cars at New York Autoshow
The article was adapted from an article at The Verge, which you can find here.