CES 2016 Preview: Data and Key Insights

Automotive innovations once again will take center stage at CES 2016, with over 100 automotive exhibitors — including nine major automakers. Attendees will be exposed to the latest in connected car developments, infotainment features, and other various aftermarket enhancements.

But there are two specific automotive technologies that are already generating the most buzz in the days before CES: electric vehicles and self-driving cars. With 20 million car shoppers and enthusiasts coming to this site each month, Edmunds.com is in a unique position to deliver key insights into how shoppers are now embracing these technologies, and how they will continue to adopt them in the future.

At least three automakers – General Motors, Volkswagen, and Faraday Future — will unveil new pure electric vehicle offerings at CES. But just how much are consumers adopting EV technology? A few stats to consider…

  • Electric vehicles are struggling to maintain loyalty among current owners. According to Edmunds data, only 29 percent of people who traded in an electric-powered vehicle (including pure EVs and plug-in hybrid cars) this year went on to purchase another electric-powered vehicle. Interestingly, about 33 percent of electric-powered trade-ins this year instead went toward a new truck or SUV.
  • For the first time this decade, pure EV market share declined in 2015. Pure EVs accounted for 0.38 percent of all new car sales in the U.S. this year (through November), down from 0.41 percent in 2014.
  • California is still far and away the biggest adopter of EVs in the United States. Nearly half (48.7%, to be exact) of all EV sales in the U.S. this year were in California. Georgia (12.7%) and Washington (5.1%) round out the top three states where EVs are popular.

"For the most part, shoppers are motivated more by economics than by a duty to the environment," says Edmunds.com Sr. Consumer Advice Editor Ronald Montoya. "That’s why it’s no coincidence that we’ve seen a decline in EV sales as gas prices have tumbled. More technology and infrastructure also still need to be developed to help ease range anxiety. Automakers are well aware of these obstacles, and they are working hard to reduce the price premium on these vehicles while at the same time investing money to improve the national support grid for EVs."

Automakers and suppliers are aggressively pushing forward with the development of self-driving cars, but are consumers ready to buy these vehicles? A new survey conducted by Edmunds.com and Instantly, Inc. says that, YES, shoppers are looking forward to autonomous vehicles. The poll of 2,017 adults conducted in November 2015 found that 60 percent of respondents said that they would consider buying a self-driving car once it is available on the market. The enthusiasm is even higher for Millennials (age 18-34); 71 percent of them said that they would consider buying a self-driving car.

It’s easy to forget that a lot of the DNA of self-driving cars is already available on many of the cars on the road today — and have been for quite some time. Blind-spot monitoring, for example, was not even available ten years ago, and now the technology comes as a standard or optional feature in 195 — or 54 percent — of all 2015 model year vehicles. Here’s a look at how certain automated technologies have been adopted as either standard or optional features by automakers over the last 10 years:

Model Year Total Models
on Market
Adaptive Cruise
2005 297 24 8% N/A N/A 3 1%
2006 305 35 11% N/A N/A 10 3%
2007 320 49 15% 3 1% 14 4%
2008 342 57 17% 18 5% 25 7%
2009 345 56 16% 38 11% 34 10%
2010 332 73 22% 51 15% 43 13%
2011 344 82 24% 73 21% 49 14%
2012 335 84 25% 81 24% 50 15%
2013 346 107 31% 118 34% 69 20%
2014 359 135 38% 151 42% 86 24%
2015 359 166 46% 195 54% 103 29%
*Edmunds count based on models that include the technology as a standard or optional feature on at least one trim level

"CES has become an annual gauge of how far automakers have come in the race to bring self-driving cars to market," says Montoya. "The biggest challenge now is less about the technology, and more about the legal and regulatory questions that need to be answered before these cars hit the road en masse. The quicker these issues can be solved, the quicker the public can further embrace this new, exciting era of personal mobility."

What are some of these cultural and regulatory questions that still need to be answered? Edmunds.com explored these challenges to self-driving cars three years ago, and most still remain unanswered today. Meanwhile, Edmunds took a test drive with Google’s self-driving car not too long ago and came away impressed with the vehicles functionality.

Are you interested in more auto tech data and insights? Please feel free to check in with us at pr@edmunds.com.