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CES: Why car gadgets are making inroads at Las Vegas electronics show

At CES, six of the top 10 automakers are promoting their technological gadgetry, an increasingly important factor in car sales. The Las Vegas electronics show is coinciding with the Detroit Auto Show.

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Silicon Valley is also home to research labs operated by General Motors, BMW AG, and the Renault-Nissan alliance. Many automakers are partnering with tech kingpins like Google and Microsoft to develop proprietary systems in their vehicles.

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“Who would have thought of Ford as a technology company? That is part of the reason they’re here. They want to be seen as a technology company, especially in a market where cars have gotten so good and there’s not many differentiating factors,” says Mr. Newcomb.

All three domestic car companies, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, and Chrysler, are exhibiting at the tradeshow alongside Kia, Audi, and Mercedes. Among the devices promoted this week are MyLink, a dashboard system designed for the Chevy Sonic and Spark, and Drive Style, an iPhone app for all 2013 Mercedes models that allows users to interact with the vehicle remotely.

The evolution follows the strong comfort level consumers have now reached with their personal devices. According to a survey released this month by Accenture, a market research company in New York, 91 percent of respondents who currently do not have in-dash systems wish they did to make phone calls, while 79 percent wanted them to stream music.

The company reports that the growing appeal of in-dash systems is likely to result in $200 in additional revenue per vehicle.

In addition to the new product launches, this year’s CES is also featuring keynote speakers by top automotive industry executives. Ford’s president and CEO, Alan Mulally, is the keynote speaker Wednesday, while Daimler AG’s board chairman, Dieter Zetsche, is the keynote speaker Thursday.

CES is the largest consumer electronics tradeshow in the world and is expected to draw more than 140,000 attendees.

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