CES wouldn’t be CES without some bonkers, far-out vehicle concepts. And thankfully, General Motors brought two.
The automaker showed off a luxury egg-shaped autonomous vehicle and a single-seater electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft during its keynote address on Tuesday. Both vehicles are part of Cadillac’s Halo Portfolio and probably won’t be going into production anytime soon — or at all.
Still, the concepts are meant to show off Cadillac’s (and, by extension, GM’s) design intentions for future products, as well as serving as an extravagant symbol of the brand’s manufacturing skills.
The AV concept looks like a leather-and-fur-draped version of many of the autonomous people-mover shuttles that we’ve seen in college towns and corporate campuses around the globe. It lacks traditional controls like a steering wheel and pedals, instead opting for an interior that looks more like a 1970s-era sunken living room. Michael Simcoe, GM’s VP of Global Design, described it as “a social space for a group of friends or family to spend time together on their way to a destination.”
The vehicle features a vertical light signature, expansive glass roof, and biometric sensors to read passengers’ vital signs and use that data to adjust settings like temperature, lighting, ambient noises, and even aromatics. Other options, like voice control and gesture recognition, will ensure making those adjustments is mostly effortless (depending on the quality of the technology, of course).
The VTOL concept looks like a more futuristic version of some of the air taxi prototypes that are under development right now. Simcoe called it GM’s “first foray into aerial mobility” — although it’s just a design exercise, and it’s unclear whether GM actually intends to pursue a commercialized version. (A spokesperson for the automaker declined to make any images available or provide additional details about both concepts.)
Simcoe said the Cadillac eVTOL aircraft would use a 90kWh electric motor to power four rotors to enable vertical takeoff and landing. That’s less battery capacity than other eVTOL startups, like Germany’s Lilium, which uses 320kWh motors to power its five-person jet.
The AV and eVTOL concepts were not the centerpiece of GM’s announcements at CES. That was reserved for the automaker’s new delivery and logistics spinoff business, BrightDrop. But they were a welcome sight at an event that has been diminished and scaled back as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kudos to GM for refusing to let the virus take all the fun out of CES.