Daimler Chairman and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dieter Zetsche will deliver a keynote address at CES 2012, the Consumer Electronics Association announced today. Zetchse’s speech will further the recent trend of cars and automotive tech playing a larger role at the Consumer Electronics Show. Ford CEO Allan Mulally and Audi chief Rupert Stadler both delivered keynotes in recent years, with Ford’s landmark presence at the show dating back to 2010. Zetsche’s speech on Tuesday, January 10 will mark Mercedes’ inaugural participation in CES.

According to the CEA press release, we should buckle up in preparation for lots of auto-tech at this winter’s show:

Automotive technology will be a major focus at the 2012 CES. Electric vehicle technologies, products and services will be featured in the GoElectricDrive TechZone. In addition, the Location Based Services TechZone will return to the CES show floor as the premier location for providers of current location-based custom technologies in both portable and in-car navigation devices. The Safe Driver TechZone will also be featured at the 2012 CES, and will highlight products that assist in auto collision avoidance, land drift assistance, parking, speed monitoring, hands-free, text-to-voice, driver drowsiness detection and more.

Technology that truly aids in safer driving is a good thing. Technology that entertains passengers? Sure. But I, for one, have a big chip on my shoulder when it comes to tech that actually winds up distracting drivers from the task at hand. So it’ll be interesting to see how the “Location Based Services” and “Safe Driver” TechZones coexist on the show floor and in the hearts and minds of automakers and consumers alike. Also, we’re totally headed for a driver-free world in which hydo-power hovercrafts controlled by the grid auto-pilot us to and from Starbux all day long. But that’s a story for another post.

CES 2012 spans January 10-13 in Las Vegas, NV. We’ll be there, and we’ll tell you all about whatever Dieter Zetsche and the rest of the tech world have to say about our automotive futures.