DETROIT â When Mark Fields attended his first consumer electronics trade show in 2007 as head of Ford Motorâs Americas division, the auto industry was hardly noticed among the thousands of tech companies gathered in Las Vegas.
âWe couldnât even get space in the convention center to do interviews, and had to do them back at the hotel,â Mr. Fields, now Fordâs chief executive, said on Monday.
But as this yearâs International CES kicks off this week, Ford and other automakers will be among the headline attractions with a series of announcements on electric vehicles, connected cars and autonomous driving.
It is one way the auto industry has become increasingly entwined with Silicon Valley in recent years.
Ford, for example, is expected to unveil plans on Tuesday to expand its testing of autonomous vehicles and bolster its SYNC in-car communications and entertainment systems.
G.M.,Â Expecting Rapid Change, Invests $ 500 Million in LyftJAN. 4, 2016
The Future Issue: The Dream Life of Driverless CarsNOV. 11, 2015
Googleâs Driverless Cars Run Into Problem: Cars With DriversSEPT. 1, 2015
Wheels: The Web-Connected Car Is Cool, Until Hackers Cut Your Brakes JULY 23, 2015
Faraday Future, Electric Car Maker, Plans a Nevada FactoryDEC. 10, 2015
Porsche, Aiming at Tesla, Unveils Electric Concept CarSEPT. 14, 2015
Despite some news reports, Mr. Fields said Ford would not be announcing a major tie-up with Google â or any other tech company â to build driverless cars together.
âIn some cases we will do things on our own and other cases we will partner with others,â he said. âBut we are going to keep those conversations private for competitive reasons.â
While tech companies like Google are moving aggressively to develop autonomous vehicles, traditional automakers are moving just as fast to add technology that allows cars to brake and steer themselves independently.
Ford will triple the size of its autonomous vehicle fleet to 30 cars from 10, and step up testing at its proving grounds as well as on public roads in California.
The goal, Mr. Fields said, is to develop fully autonomous cars by the end of the decade. But the increase in research indicates the company needs more time before it can commit to producing driverless cars for sale.
âWhen we do come out with it, it needs to work and the technology needs to be accessible to everyone and not just luxury-car drivers,â he said.
Other automakers will use International CES as a showcase for new electric vehicles that usually would be introduced at major auto shows.
General Motors is expected to show the production version of its new all-electric model, the Chevrolet Bolt, at a news conference on Wednesday featuring the companyâs and chief executive, Mary T. Barra.
Volkswagen, the German automaker under scrutiny for cheating on diesel emissions tests, is also expected to introduce a prototype of a new electric vehicle.
In all, nine automakers will hold news events at CES, and they will be joined by dozens of auto suppliers involved in autonomous vehicle programs.
A new study by the McKinsey consulting firm predicts that up to 15 percent of new vehicles could be fully autonomous by 2030. In addition, the study expects unique software â rather than engines and styling â to become the prime factor that differentiates vehicles in the future.
Some automakers are already sharing the costs and content of software to stay ahead of Silicon Valley giants like Google and Apple that are developing their own vehicles.
On Monday, Toyota and Ford said they would adopt the same software to link smartphone apps to dashboard screens in their vehicles. The software, which was developed by Ford, will integrate apps from phones into cars, as well as navigation and mapping information.
Suppliers like Delphi Automotive and Continental will demonstrate new features that automate cars to improve safety and avoid collisions.
Delphi will show off an automated version of the Audi SQ5 in Las Vegas that interacts with other cars and traffic lights, and will introduce technology that allows drivers to change radio stations or adjust temperature controls with hand gestures.
Other auto companies, ranging from start-ups like Faraday Future to luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz, are also expected to introduce electric and autonomous models at the show.
The critical factor in adopting the new technology will be how easy it is for drivers to operate, whether it is an app on a touch screen or an automated steering system that can avoid accidents.
Regulators are also preparing their own set of rules for autonomous cars at the state and federal levels.
âWe are light years away from where the industry was at this show just a few years ago,â Mr. Fields said. âItâs a really big deal now, and itâs going to stay that way.â