Presented by Honda and Sony, Afeela EV was revealed at CES 2023. Professionals in the automotive business had the same reaction to Sony’s CES 2020 preview of the Vision S concept car: “Neat, now what?” The Japanese firm responded to this query at CES 2023 by unveiling the Afeela, an electric vehicle (EV) developed in collaboration with Honda and slated for release in the United States in 2026.
“Afeela represents our concept of an interactive relationship where people feel the sensation of interactive mobility and where mobility can detect and understand people and society by utilizing sensing and AI technologies.”
-Sony Honda Mobility CEO Yasuhide Mizuno
Presented by Honda and Sony: Afeela EV
Sony Honda Mobility CEO Yasuhide Mizuno presented a prototype of the company’s first car, a mid-sized sedan, at the Consumer Electronics Show, but gave few more details about the vehicle. While orders and purchases can begin in 2025, he claimed initial deliveries to customers in North America wouldn’t begin until 2026. Honda manufacturing facilities will be responsible for creating the vehicle.
Although there were few specifics revealed at launch, the sedan looked strikingly similar to Sony’s sleek Vision-S concept car from three years ago. Sony claims it will have 45 sensors including lidar, radar, and in-car cameras, making it similar to the prototype in that respect. Sony’s recurring motif at CES 2023 was an automobile whose grille included a glowing stripe that could change color to “express itself.”
A thin outside display screen, called the media bar, runs along the top of the front bumper. Mizuno claims this will allow the car to communicate with pedestrians and other passers-by.
Sony Honda Mobility CEO Yasuhide Mizuno stated the EV would draw on Sony’s expertise in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), entertainment (VR), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), however, details remain scarce.
Within, interfaces are being developed with the help of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine graphics engine (the makers of Fortnite). The technology behind Unreal Engine has been licensed to other automakers, such as GM for use in the Hummer EV. He promised that the vehicle would have a wide variety of in-car entertainment choices.
Mizuno said that Sony entrainment and interactive elements, as well as Honda safety and driver assistance technologies, would be included in the vehicle. There has been as much attention paid to the car’s software and user interface technologies as it has to its driving dynamics and performance, he said.
The new electric vehicle’s price will put it in direct competition with those of luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, and Audi. Sony has stated that it plans to offer subscription services through its software, therefore it is likely that vehicle owners will be required to pay a recurring cost in order to use certain functions.
Sony considers automobiles, particularly electric vehicles (EVs) in particular, to be an important platform for the development of its future technology and entertainment offerings. In contrast to Apple and Google, it isn’t willing to just license its hardware and software to automakers or build its own operating system. It would like to participate in the planning and creation as well. Creating automobiles is a high-stakes, high-cost endeavor for a corporation that has never attempted it before.
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