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Ford's Mulally To Keynote Another Auto-Centric CES

Officials of the Consumer Electronics Association announced Thursday that Ford Motor Co. president and CEO Alan Mulally will deliver a keynote address at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

It's the third straight year Mulally will be a keynoter. Only Microsoft's Bill Gates has keynoted more years in a row (although next year Gates' successor at Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, will deliver his third straight CES keynote as well).

"We're just so impressed with what Ford is doing in the electronic area, the digital dashboard," said CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro in making the announcement to reporters in Detroit Thursday.

Shapiro said CES will have an increased focus on automotive elecronics. "This year's show will be by far the most automotive-centric in our history," he said.

There will separate displays for electric vehicles, location-based services and safe driving, as well.

Mulally's keynote will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, at the Hilton Center. He will highlight Ford in-vehicle connectivity, infotainment and product innovations.

"It's an honor to be invited back to deliver a keynote address," Mulally said. "As we work to serve our customers with the very best cars and trucks with best-in-class, smart technology, the consumer electronics industry plays a really important role, and there's no better place to deliver technology news than the International CES."

Ford last year received a "Best of CES" award from CNET and Popular Mechanics' Editor's Choice award for its MyFord Touch™ driver connect technology.

Ford also plans to quadruple its display space at International CES versus this year's show. The new Ford display area will feature a full complement of interactive exhibits and demonstrations of technology, from safety to sustainability to connectivity.

CES is the world's largest consumer technology trade show and takes place Jan. 6-9.

Shapiro said about 125,000 people are expected for this year's CES, 100,000 from the United States and 25,000 from the rest of the world. More than 4,000 members of the press are also expected.

Other automotive exhibitors will include Audi, General Motors-Onstar, Toyota and Hyundai.

Last year's CES included 8,000 attendees who said they worked in auto technologies. This year, 17,000 people have already signed up to attend the 2011 event making the same statement. But Shapiro cautioned that all of them may not attend.

During the meeting with reporters, Shapiro and Ford senior technical leader Venkatesh Prasad spoke about the future of automotive electronics. Shapiro said the "next big thing is full broadband into the car, with all the services that implies." Prasad said he expected increasingly sophisticated electronics and tightly integrated software to affect more aspects of the entire vehicle shopping, purchase, ownership and maintenance experience.

Eventually, Prasad said, you'll be able to upload applications to your car like you do now to your cell phone.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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