Japanese tech giant Sony on Wednesday revealed a prototype of the new “Afeela” electric vehicles it will build with carmaker Honda, at the CES 2023 technology trade show in Las Vegas.
Sony said Afeela, which sports rounded corners and a sleek black roof, will use technology from hardware maker Qualcomm, including its “Snapdragon” digital chassis.
The electric vehicle would harness Sony’s vast entertainment content as the company makes its long-awaited push into electric vehicles.
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The Afeela EV demonstrates how automakers are increasingly focussing on the in-car cockpit experience. It presents the opportunity to monetise content via subscription services, particularly as autonomous driving capabilities advance.
“In order to realise intelligent mobility, continuous software updates and high-performance computing are required,” Yashuhide Mizuno, the chief executive of Sony Honda Mobility, told the trade show. “To that end, we will work closely with Qualcomm.”
Qualcomm on Wednesday launched a new processor, the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC, that handles both assisted driving and cockpit functions, including entertainment. Previously those functions were handled on different chips, and bringing them together can help bring down costs, a Qualcomm executive said.
Sony also plans to harness its traditional strengths in sensors as it looks to becoming a player in next-generation cars.
The Afeela will be equipped with more than 40 sensors, Mizuno said. The car will use the “Unreal Engine” 3-D creation tool from Epic Games, the maker of the “Fortnite” series of games.
For Honda, the venture with Sony – announced in March – could speed up what has so far been a slow shift to electric.
The carmaker has also struggled over the years to make gains in the luxury vehicle market with its Acura brand. The new EV will be priced at a premium, the venture has said.
The companies aim to deliver their first electric vehicles by early 2026 in North America.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena
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