CES 2015 Recap With The Connected Car, Consumer Electronics & IoT Sony's Z3v Smartphone Helped Me To Cover CES & NAIAS 2015

Jan 15

Behind The Blue Oval Ford NAIAS 2015
Behind The Blue Oval - Ford Motor Company - North American International Auto Show 2015

Getting the email to cover the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, NAIAS, is one of the most exciting things to have happened to me in 2014. It is the largest automobile event to happen all year. It is so big that it takes over the Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings play and the Cobo Center, the multiple level convention space located next door.

Angie Kozleski Introduces The Ford NAIAS 2015 Event
Angie Kozleski Introduces The Ford NAIAS 2015 Event

The Ford Motor Company was awesome to sponsor my travel and lodging, however all of my opinions and thoughts about their events, or of NAIAS as a whole, are my own.

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Sign

This is my second visit to Detroit for NAIAS. This is the first time I had ever been to the Ford Motor Company Piquette Avenue Plant though, the site of their second factory. It incorporated an assembly line and was the birthplace of the Model T vehicle.

Ford GT40 Supercar Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Detroit
Ford GT40 Supercar - Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Detroit

The moment when we walked through the front door, a Ford GT40 supercar was placed in our direct field of view, like a wink as to what was to come. I took that as a big hint and was hoping the Blue Oval would introduce something awesome at their press conference, on the following day.

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Discussion With Sheryl Connelly

Cheryl Connelly, Ford’s Futurist, had a chat with the head of the Ford Motor Company Archives about how the auto maker started and what made them so successful. One interesting fact is that the original Ford Motor Company is now known as Cadillac.

Band Playing Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Band Playing Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

A local band played after the presentation and a local coffee roaster provided samples of their Detroit Bold brew. That night, I prepared for the following day by reading various car blogs and going over my notes from the Ford NAIAS Preview event I attended in early December 2014.

Joe Hinrichs Talks EcoBoost Engines At NAIAS 2015

I knew that EcoBoost engines, a next generation Mustang and an aluminum F-150 would be topics at the Ford press conference. I was excited by the prospect to walk around several of their newest unveiled vehicles after their announcements, in the Joe Louis Arena.

Ford Motor Company North American International Auto Show 2015 Introduction Press Event

The Blue Oval did not disappoint at their press conference on the following morning. They talked about their One Ford initiative, revealed more robust EcoBoost engines, a new Shelby Mustang GT350R, a new GT supercar and a totally cool F-150 Raptor. Chairman Bill Ford, CEO Mark Fields, Raj Nair and Joe Hinrichs all did a fantastic job of wowing the media in attendance, during the unveilings.

Ford NAIAS 2015 Ford Performance Joe Louis Arena
Ford NAIAS 2015 - Ford Performance - Joe Louis Arena

Getting up close and personal with the vehicles was next on my list. I was able to tour around many of the new Ford Performance vehicles such as the new GT, Shelby Mustang GT350R, F-150 Raptor, Focus ST and Fiesta ST. This happened before all of the cars were moved into their booth at the Cobo Center. My Focus ST tour video received the most buzz that morning.

2017 Ford Raptor F-150 Revealed

I imagine that a ride in the new 2016 F-150 Raptor would be as fun as my last ride in an earlier model. A few years ago, Ford offered ride alongs in Raptors, during a media event. We went airborne for a few moments at the very end. The media and followers on social media were very interested in learning more about the new Ford GT.

My inkling of a new GT supercar was confirmed during the Ford press conference, something I was excited to have seen in person. As soon as I could get up close to the new GT, I noticed its special headlights.

BMW M4 Laser Light Concept

They are either the same or very close to being the same modules that will be used in the BMW M4. The special laser headlamps were shown off during a presentation in BMW’s International Consumer Electronics Show 2015 booth.

New Ford GT Supercar NAIAS 2015

The laser headlamps will be one of the coolest features in the supercar. Its scissor doors, racecar inspired design, dash layout and engine placement make it something right out of a video game.

You can virtually drive the new GT before its official release in the Forza Motorsport 6 XBox game. To make it available in one year is going to elevate the Blue Oval in the eyes of higher end street legal supercar buyers.

Ford Motor Company’s NAIAS 2015 booth included many of their newest vehicles to see up close and a huge media center near the back, next to Lincoln Motor Company’s booth. The center section was raised and focused on how the company is working on becoming the best green manufacturer in the business.

Ford Motor Company NAIAS 2015 Booth Green Area
Ford Motor Company NAIAS 2015 Booth Green Area

It is nice to see automotive companies have a goal of utilizing 100% renewable energies. Carmakers are also finding new ways to use formally discarded products and turn them into safe car parts, like insulation and interior door panels.

Ford Motor Company NAIAS 2015 Booth Social Media Wall
Ford Motor Company NAIAS 2015 Booth Social Media Wall

Other sections in the Ford booth had giant screens on either wall displaying social media updates from people using a specialized hashtag. That way we could all keep a collective eye on what was happening in near real time.

iBeacon Bluetooth Estimote Pebble Ford NAIAS 2015
iBeacon Bluetooth Pebble From Estimote At NAIAS 2015

And then there was the F-150 setup with iBeacons from Estimote, which were adhered at various points. One of the Ford people working on the program showed me how a smartphone with a special app could launch small mobile pages with information and videos about how that part of the truck worked.

People usually check websites before heading into a dealership. Now these nearables can help future car buyers to compare features like how an EcoBoost engine performs over others on the market. Several of the Bluetooth low energy enabled iBeacons were inside of the truck that showed how someone might utilize storage space or configure the truck bed on the job site.

New Lincoln Motor Company MKX Revealed By Kumar Galhotra

This year at NAIAS was a little different in that I was able to attend a reveal by the Lincoln Motor Company. Mark Fields introduced the new president of Lincoln, Kumar Galhotra, who then showed off the new MKX crossover vehicle.

Mark Fields CEO Ford Motor Company Introduces Kumar Galhotra

I enjoyed the introduction of their new SUV with musicians playing classical music inside the Cobo Center. Mark Fields acknowledged a few parodies to the highly successful Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ads with a funny comment.

Verizon Connected Car Racecar NAIAS 2015
Verizon Connected Car NAIAS 2015

Between presentations from different groups in the Ford booth, I ventured out in the show to see what else was happening. Verizon Wireless introduced their new connected car initiative, which you can read more about it my other post.

3D Printed Car Chassis NAIAS 2015
3D Printed Car Chassis NAIAS 2015

Concept cars are always cool to see and this year, a company was 3D printing a full car chassis, in time for the public viewing of NAIAS. I heard that the car received a real engine and was driven around downtown Detroit.

3D Printed Fender NAIAS 2015
3D Printed Fender NAIAS 2015

Product announcements continued after NAIAS 2015. One of the most exciting of those came a few days ago from the Ford Motor Company in Europe. Smaller cars like the Fiesta and Focus received Ford Performance upgrades in all of the right places.

Ford Focus RS 2016
Ford Focus RS 2016 - Photo: Ford Motor Company

Ford updated its worldwide product offerings their newest 2016 Focus RS all-wheel drive release from Cologne, Germany via a live stream. The RS classification for vehicles was born in that country 60 years ago. The good news about the 2016 Ford Focus RS is that it will be making its way to the American market at some point late 2016 or early 2017.

It amazingly features a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder engine with 320+ horsepower and 320+ pound-feet of torque. The engine is from the new Mustang with EcoBoost and it comes with a six speed manual gearbox.

That is great news for those of us who want all of the fun of a Mustang EcoBoost engine sans the price or weight of a larger vehicle. The setup is rally-grade via new torque vectoring that can send 70% of the power to the rear axel and 100% of that power to one wheel. Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance says their electric power steering in the 2016 Focus RS is, “very direct, precise and well balanced.”

I am hoping that a new Ford GT will be available to test drive at their world headquarters in Dearborn, MI very soon. I will then be able to compare it to my ride in the BMW i8, which I covered during CES 2015.

My visit to the largest car show in the world was full of discoveries. Seeing the Ford Pequette Avenue Plant for the first time and interacting with new folks from the auto company was totally worth it. Thanks to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which made it possible for those in attendance to cover such an event with new announcements in automotive, technology, renewable energy, design and form made throughout NAIAS.

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