Bubble roofs, self-driving EVs, and the case of the missing driver assist system.
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 anyone who wants to cut through the noise and see the stuff that really matters.
1. MOST FUTURAMA-READY 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.
2. BEST CURVEBALL: WAYMO AND JAGUAR
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. I think The Verge’s enterprise editor Michael Zelenko summed it up best when he DM’d me, “jaguar?… it’s weird!” 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 (see below). 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.