Sony’s electric car has been one of the most interesting things to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas over the past few years. In 2020, the Japanese tech giant Sony surprised everyone with the Vision-S, a beautiful electric vehicle (EV) that was made to show off Sony’s sensors and camera tech on the outside and its entertainment portfolio on the inside.
The Vision-S prototypes got better the next year, and in 2022, the company brought an SUV version to CES as well. At the time, Sony told the media that it was looking into commercial possibilities for a Sony EV, and in March of last year, it announced a strategic alliance with Honda. Honda will be in charge of the vehicle body engineering and after-sales support, while Sony will be in charge of the electronics, sensors, networking, telecom, and infotainment.
Sony’s plans for cars have become much clearer for CES 2023. The joint venture between Sony and Honda, called Sony Honda Mobility, is launching a brand called Afeela. It says this is because “feel” is “at the center of the mobility experience,” as people feel “mobility as an intelligent entity” and mobility feels “people and society using sensing and network IT technologies.”
The car has changed a little since we saw it last year, but the main design elements still remind us of Porsche and Lucid. From the back wheels back, it looks like a 911 Targa, and the front of the new EV has a strong touch of the Lucid Air.
On the outside, the front of the Afeela has a light bar that it can use “to express itself to people around it using light, enabling interactive communication between mobility and people.” For example, it can show text messages like “hello” or the weather.
People inside the Afeela EV might not be able to tell what’s going on outside, but Sony wants the car to be a way for its movies, music, and games to reach more people. In order to do this, SHM has made a deal with Epic Games to make new games.
“At Epic, we love cars and the automotive industry, so we couldn’t be happier to see Sony and Sony Honda Mobility enter the innovative world of mobility and automotive technology. We’re looking forward to bringing you exciting news about this new area with their help “Kim Libreri, the Chief Technical Officer of Epic, said.
Afeela isn’t promising a fully autonomous future—at least, not yet. However, SHM says it will develop a partially automated driving system for highways (called “level 3”) and a “level 2+” system for use in more crowded areas. The Afeela prototype has 45 cameras and sensors inside and outside, which make it possible for a number of advanced driver assistance systems to work.
The entertainment and ADAS features will need processing power, and SHM has chosen Qualcomm as its partner in this area.
“The car is getting more and more connected and smart, and this is changing how we use them. The Snapdragon Digital Chassis is the base for software-defined vehicles of the next generation, allowing for new mobility experiences and services. We are excited to work with Sony Honda Mobility to make the car of the future that we both want to see “said Cristiano Amon, who is the President and CEO of Qualcomm.
SHM says it will take the next two years to turn the Afeela prototype into a car that can be sold to the public. It plans to start taking preorders in the first half of 2025, and production will start in one of Honda’s US factories. The first cars will go to Japan and Europe. The first cars will come to North America in the spring of 2026.