If you needed more proof that vehicle connectivity is as important as vehicle performance these days, here it is: Mercedes-Benz has chosen to launch its next generation of vehicle telematics system, called mbrace2, at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Even more indicative of the merging of the automotive and electronics industries is that Dr. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz and chairman of the board at Daimler, was chosen to deliver a keynote address on the “The True Meaning Of The Connected Vehicle - Both What It Is And What It Isn’t.”

At its CES booth, Mercedes-Benz will be demonstrating its latest telematics advances, including the second-generation mbrace system. Now expanded to include cloud-based apps, as well as more features and services, mbrace2 will appear in 2013 model year Mercedes-Benz vehicles, beginning with the new SL roadster.

The company has refined its mbrace smartphone app as well, and it now includes geo-fence alerts and valet parking protection. As with the previous version, the mbrace2 app can be used to find a physical address or a friend’s current location, then send directions directly to your mbrace-equipped vehicle.

Coming later this year is the DriveStyle iPhone app, which will allow drivers to interact with their vehicle instead of their phone to minimize distractions. While Mercedes-Benz has yet to release details, we suspect that the app will read texts and provide speech-to-text replies, among other features.

To further wow CES attendees, Mercedes-Benz will also showcase its “Dynamic & Intuitive Control Experience” (DICE) simulator. Demonstrating what cars of the future may operate like, DICE replaces buttons and switches with intuitive hand gesture to operate controls.

Will we see more automaker participation at future CES events? Given the prevailing trends in the industry, we’d say bank on it.