The North American International Auto Show opened to the public this weekend at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. And while it immediately follows the Consumer Electronics Show, which has increasingly become a place for car companies to flaunt their wildest dreams of the future, Detroit remains a show about cars you’re most likely to be driving in the next few years.
Sure, there are concepts among the more than 750 cars at this year’s show, like the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 and the autonomous, electric Volkswagen ID Buzz. But for all its pointy edges and its suicide doors, the Nissan looks pedestrian in comparison to the Jetsons vehicles of CES. Volkswagen’s bus concept was far out, but it was was tacked on to the end of a 25-minute presentation about the company’s push into the SUV market.
This doesn’t mean the future isn’t on display at the Detroit Auto Show. It’s just harder to find. It won’t hit you over the head with brash concepts and gaudy bodywork. Rather, it materializes in smaller bits like digital displays, or cameras, or LIDAR and RADAR sensors — the stuff that will shape the next five to ten years of the industry. (Perhaps that’s why Vice President Joe Biden showed up.)
These glimpses of a closer, more tangible future are on display at Ford’s booth in the company’s new autonomous Fusion. Ford’s also showing off the GT’s new digital instrument cluster, which the company says will soon be brought over to its more affordable cars. Or you can hop over to the Volvo booth and see their take on autonomy in the XC 90 — one advanced version of which the company is giving to a family in Sweden. (Waymo, a company born out of Google, also showed off its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica, but left town early.)
The Detroit Auto Show runs through Sunday, January 22nd, so you have plenty time to brave the cold and check out these cars for yourself. We’ve dropped some of our favorite images from our few days there down below. Just remember, though — you can find the future in Detroit. You just might have to squint a little.