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This is the electric car Sony will build with Honda

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The front half of an Afeela prototype at sunset
Enlarge / Sony’s automotive ambitions crystallized at CES 2023 with the launch of Afeela, a new mobility brand developed in collaboration with Honda.

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One of the most intriguing stories to emerge from the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in recent years has been Sony’s electric vehicle. The Japanese tech giant people stunned in 2020 Debuting is the Vision-S, a handsome electric vehicle designed to showcase Sony’s sensors and camera technology on the outside and its entertainment portfolio on the inside.

The next year brought more developed prototypes Vision-S in sight; then, in 2022, it took an SUV version also at CES. At that time, Sony told the media that it was exploring the commercial possibilities of a Sony electric vehicle, and last March it announced a strategic alliance with Hondathe latter providing vehicle body engineering and aftermarket support, and Sony providing electronics, sensors, networking, telecommunications and infotainment.

For CES 2023, Sony’s automotive ambitions have become much clearer. Sony Honda Mobility, the joint venture, is launching a brand called Afeela, which it says is because “feel” is “at the center of the mobility experience” as people experience “mobility as an intelligent entity “and mobility feels” people and society using computer sensing and network technologies.

The car’s changed a bit since we saw it dominating last year, but the design cues are reminiscent of Porsche and Lucid – I’m far from the only person who thinks it looks like a 911 Targa from the wheels rear, and there’s a strong hint of the Lucid Air on the front of the new EV.

Something of note on the exterior is a light bar in the front which the Afeela can use “to express itself to surrounding people using light, enabling interactive communication between mobility and people”, including the display of text messages such as greetings or display of the current weather. (We wonder if it’s possible to mirror text to show messages to cars ahead…)

However, people inside the Afeela EV may not notice anything going on outside. Sony wants the car to be a conduit for its entertainment offerings, be it movies, music or games. To this end, SHM has signed an agreement with Epic Games to develop new entertainment.

“At Epic, we are passionate about cars and the automotive industry, and we couldn’t be happier to see Sony and Sony Honda Mobility enter the innovative world of mobility and automotive technology. Together with them, we look forward to to bring you exciting updates within this groundbreaking space,” said Epic CTO Kim Libreri.

Afeela isn’t promising a fully autonomous future – not yet at least – but SHM says it will develop a partially automated driving system (called “level 3”) for highways as well as a so-called “level 2+” system for use in more built environments. The Afeela prototype integrates a total of 45 cameras and sensors inside and out to enable a host of advanced driver assistance systems.

Entertainment and ADAS features will require processing power, and SHM has chosen Qualcomm as a partner in this area.

“The car is becoming more connected and smarter, and the way we experience our vehicles is changing. The Snapdragon digital chassis serves as the foundation for next-generation software-defined vehicles, enabling new mobility experiences and services. We are excited to collaborate with Sony Honda Mobility to realize our shared vision of the car of the future,” said Cristiano Amon, President and CEO of Qualcomm.

SHM says it will spend the next two years turning the Afeela prototype into a production car. It plans to start taking pre-orders in the first half of 2025, with production beginning at one of Honda’s US factories. The cars will go to Japan and Europe first, with North American deliveries scheduled for spring 2026.

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