Sony used a PS5 controller to lead the AFEELA EV to the stage at CES

Sony used a PS5 controller to lead the AFEELA EV to the stage at CES

Sony is now in its fifth year of showing off its upcoming electric car at its CES press conferences, which we learned last year would be called AFEELA and scheduled to hit the market in 2026.

This year, the press conference focused on Sony’s software plans for its new car — along with a slew of the latest buzzwords, most of which related to artificial intelligence.

To recap, the AFEELA concept was originally stated to have a 400 kW (536 hp) dual-motor all-wheel drive, a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 4.8 seconds, and a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph). per hour). As far as we know, these are still the specifications Sony is aiming for. We still have no word on price or battery size, but we have two more years until this car hits the road, so price will definitely come later.

Sony is focusing its expertise in electronics by highlighting its in-car sensing and entertainment systems. Like every electric car released these days, AFEELA will feature a wide range of sensors for potential self-driving missions.

Inside the car, Sony believes it is able to provide better information and entertainment thanks to its experience in the field of consumer entertainment. It wants to implement constant over-the-air software updates, and has shown interior images of large screens in both the front and rear seats, and seems to indicate that there may be PS5-level performance available for in-car gaming tasks (that will likely give it a run). Tesla is giving it a run for its money. In the $100,000 gaming console market).

But lest we think this is just an electronics company dreaming up a product to attract more eyes to its CES presentation, Sony has taken steps to show it’s serious about building this car. It has already partnered with Honda to establish Sony Honda Mobility, Inc. Interestingly, Sony received top billing in the partnership, rather than Honda – perhaps a reflection of the Japanese automaker’s hesitation towards anything EV-related.

New details about AFEELA – or not

At today’s press conference, Sony brought Honda CEO Toshihiro Mebe on stage to talk about the partnership and how mobility is undergoing a “once-in-100-year” transformation — though he didn’t use the word “electric” once in his speech.

Then Yasuhide Mizuno, CEO of Sony Honda Mobility Inc., took to the stage to talk about the in-car software experience. He began by demonstrating the software-defined nature of the car by… driving the car to the stage using a PS5 controller.

But don’t get too excited, as it was stated that this was “for theatrical display purpose only.”

However, what the demo shows is that cars are becoming more defined by software, not hardware. With software having deep control over vehicle functions, over-the-air updates can change many aspects of the driving experience, and can improve vehicles over time.

But it also means that these vehicles can suffer from software problems, perhaps more so than vehicles did before they relied on software.

Sony says the software-defined nature of the car will turn the car into a “digital playground” for creatives to create new in-car experiences. It showed a sample game featuring a vehicle in an imaginary world alongside escaped Godzilla-like monsters, which you can get points for catching.

It also said it wanted to “foster a creative community between users and creators” with “access to vehicle data” in order to “realize unique ideas.” Which honestly seems a bit Orwellian, and isn’t particularly helped by the fact that it then brings “big brother” Microsoft on to the stage to announce a partnership…that has to do(?) with AI. Honestly, I kind of overlooked this part, because I’ve heard enough AI buzzwords this year.

Sony then ended the press conference, without any new details about the price, the battery, or the SUV version that appeared two years ago and has not appeared since, or reconfirming its availability in the previously announced 2026.

Below is a replay of the full conference (AFEELA presentation starts at 34:23):

Take Electric

When Sony surprised everyone with its EV concept in 2020, we thought it was a bit crazy everyone It seems to be previewing the concept of electric vehicles now. We’ve seen a lot of electric concept cars over the years, with varying levels of seriousness.

Sony could have been one of the less risky companies… but it wasn’t. It seemed relatively polished and reasonable and didn’t make as many outlandish claims as some others might.

At the time, we thought there was a good chance this would happen, and every year since then, Sony has gotten one step closer to actually launching this car. Between the original concept, some road testing, the SUV variant (which has now only been shown once, and missed for two years in a row), its partnership with Honda, the product name and production date (with a reasonable timeline – at least 7 years after development began on… The car), there is more progress every time we hear about this car.

Of course – by the time this car shows up, they’ll have been talking about it Seven CES conferences in a row, if the trend continues. Building a car is certainly a big change for a company focused on consumer electronics, but at this point they’re milking the concept for all its worth. I know I just praised them for taking their time with this, and that praise still stands, and I’m glad we got the updates and everything… but it’s still a lot of press conferences for one car.

In contrast, another consumer electronics company that has been rumored to be developing a car, Apple, has never spoken about it publicly. Personally, I’ve always thought that getting into cars would be an unwise move for Apple (remember Tim Cook’s famous “All Apple products can fit on this one table” presentation) so I’m skeptical that this will ever happen, but it’s definitely a good idea . The contrast in journalistic strategy with Sony’s approach.

This may have been particularly evident this year. While each previous presentation had included meaningful new information beyond what was presented the previous year, this one seemed trivial to me. The tech buzzword of the past year has been AI, and every company wants to associate its image in some way with that of AI, hoping to do the same thing NVDA did, for example.

So I’m a little disappointed in this particular press conference. Going into it, I wasn’t expecting much, as Sony has already shown off the car a few times, and frankly, it doesn’t need to show it seven times before it’s out.

But the AI ​​stuff leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s a car, tell us how it would work as a car. Don’t just bombard us with buzzwords.

Yes, defining a car with software is neat, enables new experiences, and can even make a car better over time (I saw this with my first car, a Tesla Model 3, and it is a better car today than it was when I first received it). It will potentially free us from the previous annual modernization cycle that has encouraged excessive vehicle consumption for more than half a century.

But catching dinosaurs in your car and letting creators spy on your car’s data is weird. So let’s focus on the car, instead of trying to be another “EV” for gamers (and this is coming from someone who plays too many video games).

Regardless, we’re still really looking forward to trying this thing out when it’s ready. Hopefully it will be next year – as this will be Sony’s last chance before the planned pre-order availability in 2025 for the 2026 release.

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