Sony Honda Mobility (SHM) announced its new brand “Afeela”, and unveiled a prototype as a new type of mobility, at CES 2023 which opens to the public in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, and online from January 5, 2023.
Prior to the public unveiling, Representative Director, Chairman, and CEO Yasuhide Mizuno took the stage at a press conference & said the car would leverage the electronics company’s experience with AI (artificial intelligence), virtual reality, and augmented reality to present a unique EV. According to Mizuno:
“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.”
As per reports, Afeela’s EV will be priced to compete with premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, and Audi. It adds that Sony expects the car’s software to offer subscription services, so Afeela EV owners will likely have to pay a monthly fee to access selected features.
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The Afeela EV will be open for pre-orders before the end of 2025, followed by the first deliveries for US customers in spring 2026. Deliveries in Japan will start towards the second half of the same year. The first product will reportedly be manufactured at a Honda factory in North America. About the design, the company says:
“The design of this prototype aims to create a new value standard for mobility. As we reach an inflection point where the elements of a car is shifting from power and performance to software, networks, and user experiences, we reexamined the individuality and form of vehicle design up until now, and by further refining, we aimed to highlight the essential values and sublimate them into a pure and strong design.”
Afeela’s exterior also features a “Media Bar” which allows intelligent mobility to express itself to surrounding people using light, enabling interactive communication between mobility and people.
The interior is based on a gently rounded tone, wrapping the occupants in a soft cocoon. Not only is the atmosphere comfortable, but has been designed to be as simple as possible, minimizing distracting ornamentation and colors. The aim is to realize a people-centric experience that provides the functionality that people want, says SHM.
The car might also have a built-in PS5, which SHM says is a part of the entertainment on the go and a more entertainment-driven vehicle. SHM president and COO Izumi Kawanishi said that it’s possible to integrate the PlayStation into cars & sees it as a plus point to challenge the likes of Tesla in the EV domain.
“Sony has content, services, and entertainment technologies that move people. We are adapting these assets to mobility, and this is our strength against Tesla.”
Although the company hasn’t shared details related to the powertrain components including the battery & motor, it says Afeela aims to have Level 3 automated drive under limited conditions and will enable Level 2+ driver assistance in even more situations such as urban driving. The prototype is equipped with a total of 45 cameras and sensors inside and outside the vehicle. In-car cameras and Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors (that measure the distance to an object by the time light takes to hit an object and return) detect the driver and car’s situation to help avoid accidents.
The company will use SoCs (Systems on a Chip) from Qualcomm Snapdragon Digital Chassis for 800 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) maximum computing performance as hardware. A new HMI (Human Machine Interface) will be introduced, providing a personalized in-car experience through cloud-service connectivity, realizing entertainment beyond driving. It will also provide intuitive navigation through augmented reality (AR) using its sensing technology.
Afeela Concept movie
SHM says it aims to evolve mobility space into entertainment and emotional space, by seamlessly integrating real and virtual worlds, and exploring new entertainment possibilities through digital innovations such as the metaverse. For this, SHM has started to build new values and concepts for mobility with Epic Games, the renowned American video game and software development company famous for developing Unreal Engine, a commercially available game engine, as well as popular games such as Fortnite and Gears of War. Commenting on this, Kim Libreri, CTO of Epic Games said:
“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 bringing you exciting updates within this revolutionary space.”
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The first time Sony showed its intention to enter the car scene was at CES 2020, where it unveiled the Vision-S sedan concept. Two years later, Sony showcased the Vision-S 02 seven-seater concept, after which the sedan was renamed as Vision-S 01. Although Sony initially said it will not produce vehicles for mass production, it had been conducting road tests. Later the company was looking for an automotive partner to commercialize its EV project, which was fulfilled after Honda teamed up with them.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com