Billed as the “Future is here,” the 2019 Canadian International Autoshow being held February 15 to 24, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, did not disappoint. It has clearly become a mainstream event.

I had the opportunity to attend the show on its opening day, February 15 and was immediately struck by the prominence of big brand internet companies. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime had a huge advertising presence.

Kijiji Autos raised an interesting proposition with its advertisement: Will ride sharing go the way of Airbnb? The potential evolution of this idea is worth following as ride sharing continues to evolve.

Although the show had displays of more than 1,000 cars, trucks, SUVs, concept cars, exotics, classics, muscle cars, fully electric and autonomous vehicles, a few key areas stood out.

Electric Vehicles remain prominent

It was evident that electric vehicles (“EVs”) continued to gain prominence. A company called “Flo” displayed a charging station that could be installed in homes as well as others that are being placed across North America. Flo’s equipment can charge any model of EV.

https://flo.ca/on-the-go/map?_ga=2.129641732.902889841.1550757815-2134598290.1550757815

It was amazing to note that the range of EVs are getting much longer. For instance, the Kia Soul EV has a range of up to 385km, whereas the Nissan Leaf has range of up to 363km.

With the evolution of charging technology, we should be on the look-out for fast charging to become mainstream. This technology could enable 150km to be charged in approximately 5-10 minutes. Developments like this will be the tipping point for EVs to become competitive with gas-powered vehicles for range and long distance utility.

One setback, however, is that big brand EVs are still very pricey. For example, the price of the Audi e-tron currently starts at $90,000.

Hydrogen, an emerging power source

Electrically-powered vehicles were not the only alternative fuel source on display. Hydrogen power is set to become more widespread. The Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle market is predicted to grow at 8.12% CAGR during 2019 to 2023, according to Global Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Market 2019 Industry Report published by “Market Research Future”.

Toyota displayed its hydrogen fuel cell, while Hyundai showcased a model of its Hydrogen car, which is in pre-production.

Hybrids, an affordable choice 

Some affordable choices in the hybrid category were on display. These include the Kia Optima hybrid, priced at $30,000 and the Kia Niro hybrid at $25,000.

In my opinion, it is simply a matter of time before all cars have some form of electric drivetrain. As a result, hybrids and EVs might come to dominate sooner than people expect.

Screens everywhere, but blank ones too

Another big theme at the Autoshow is that screens were everywhere. Most dashboards are now digital. The only problem is that when the cars are turned off all you can see is a big black screen, which in my opinion spoils the car show.

Biggest trend in new car technology? Super-sized screens

Another problem with digital dashboards is that it is hard to discover what you can do because what you see on screen changes all the time. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I like knobs and dials.

A few examples of vehicles with dashboard screens include the Land Rover 4, which even has a rear view mirror that displays a video image from a rear-facing camera. Mercedes also has a good looking, very wide full screen dash board, whereas Jaguar showed off a car with a 2-screen dashboard plus a CD player. Dashboards aside, the CD player is step back into the past.

The Evolve Automobile Innovation Index ETF (CARS) provides investors with access to global companies that are involved in developing electric drivetrains, autonomous driving or network connected services for automobiles.