By on January 7, 2020

Sony

When it comes to forward-thinking concept vehicles, “vision” ranks among the most popular words used by automakers to convey their futuristic aspirations to the general public. Among real-world production models, the letter “S” best signifies a vehicle either at the top or bottom of its game. There’s no in-between when it comes to S; it’s either Sport, or base.

So it’s forgivable if the reader finds the name bestowed on a prototype vehicle launched Monday night at the Consumer Electronics Show to be both generic and instantly forgettable. But the Vision-S is real, and it was built by a company best known for putting music in the hands of the teeming masses, not cars.

Sony surprised everyone at CES last night. Yes, Sony, which appears to be in the market to outfit other companies’ vehicles for electric semi-autonomous driving, rather than offer the whole package on its own. Sony made no promise of vehicle production.

Sony

The Vision-S, therefore, stands as a showcase of Sony’s mobility-related technology. In a, um, vision statement, the company expressed that it “exists as a citizen of society and the Earth.”

“We believe that new human lifestyles exist beyond the realms of new mobility,” the company stated. “Sony will work directly toward that ideal.”

Sounds spooky.

Looking like a latter day Austin Princess, were one to be designed by Tesla and Porsche, the Vision-S carries four passengers atop a specially made EV platform outfitted with two 200kW electric motors front and rear. Said platform and associated systems tap into the future with the help of 5G connectivity, affording the user over-the-air (OTA) updates. The 5,180-pound all-wheel drive car is said to be capable of sprints to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds.

While the vehicle soaks up upgrades sent from a company’s nerve center, it will also evolve to the user’s specific tastes via cloud artificial intelligence; its sensing systems will learn the user’s preferences and update entertainment, climate control and drive modes accordingly. All the while, tech will enable seamless transitions from person to occupant. For example, the song playing on your mobile device will emerge from the car’s speakers after entering the vehicle.

Sony

Speaking of music, something Sony knows well, the company’s 360 Reality Audio promises a “spherical sound field” in the cabin for a truly immersive listening experience. Seat-mounted speakers flourish in this tech testbed.

Not just speakers, either, A dozen cameras (note the side-view “mirror” screens), a bevy of ultrasonic and radar sensors, and solid-state LiDAR maps the world around the Vision-S, providing what Sony calls a “Safety Cocoon.” A driver-monitoring camera is there, too, which, when combined with LiDAR, makes Sony’s effort a more advanced self-driving package than anything offered by Tesla. Sony says the driver-assist system counts as a Level 2+ on the self-driving scale, with the potential to take things to Level 4 in the future.

Will you ever be able to drive one yourself? The jury’s out on that, but Sony hints continuously that the vehicle is a one-off. Every page in the Vision-S online catalogue carries the disclaimer, “This content and prototype vehicle are intended to illustrate our future concepts in the area of mobility.”

Still, unlike Apple, Sony managed to crank out an actual car for the public to gawk at.

Sony

[Images: Sony]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

40 Comments on “Sony Vision-S: A Car From the Maker of the Walkman...”


  • avatar
    cdotson

    Because the Swatch automobile project remains such a rousing success, another producer of 1980s kitsch nostalgia seeks to duplicate the experience.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Looks like it could be the next-gen Tesla Model S.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Clean simple and no bs. I like it.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    For a one-off, that looks VERY production-ready.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      You mean like they did some coachbuilding work on a Tesla Model 3?
      (This is my hunch given the side profiles are so similar.)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Good question. I’d have to think they borrowed the platform from someone. That, or they just decided out of nowhere to drop a few billion to develop something from the ground up (not likely).

        My guess is this is based on some Chinese-market EV that we haven’t seen here.

  • avatar
    V16

    For a first time EV design, Sony deserves a round of applause.
    They should give Polestar a phone call to gather interest.
    Would be a solid addition to the lineup.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Please build a car Sony. Please.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “For example, the song playing on your mobile device will emerge from the car’s speakers after entering the vehicle.”

    Any new BMW can do this now. Also Tesla.

    It’s a handsome design, but I’m afraid the Japanese don’t know how to do software. If Sony is smart, they’ll outsource all the software to Silicon Valley.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    That’s a good looking car. The rear 3/4 view makes me think this is what the Rover SD1 (that’s 3500 to us Colonials) would look like. I’ve read that as far as electric power trains go now, a “manufacturer” can call up a supplier and order the components sort of like one used to order food from a Chinese restaurant.

    “I’ll take the motors from column A, the power converters from column G, and the batteries from column C.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Surely you can’t be serious.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Brilliant design. Cars have been flying off the shelves at our local dealers, we need another one to add to the mix.

    On another note, we finally know were the disgruntled and fired Tesla design engineer got his next job.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    This car wins the ‘best derivative styling’ award by a country mile. Light bar from new Panamera, wheels from AMG, Model 3 profile and front end but made it look masculine instead of like a duck, red brake calipers to break up the gray….

    Surprising to see Sony flex these types of design chops in the car world.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is doing several things:

    1) It’s showing off that Magna Steyr is ready to build limited-production EVs for anyone who asks. That’s why it looks so production-ready.

    2) It’s trying to encourage the (abominable) trend of more and more in-car entertainment, including for the driver, because that will allow Sony to play in new component markets.

    3) It’s reminding OEMs that Sony can still do audio, looking for a replacement for the lost Ford gig. Sony has had a renewed high-end audio push over the last couple of years, trying to capture more of the market for people playing higher-resolution digital audio files. As has been true for Sony for at least 40 years, the results are a baffling combination of some outstanding greatness and some absolute ordinariness.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    – I believe that old human lifestyles exist within the realm of old mobility.

    – These kind of technology demonstrators make perfect sense for major automotive suppliers. (But most people end up focusing on what it looks like or how quick it is.)

    – Sony is one of those companies that knows what it would take to build really good stuff, but they usually pump out stuff that is ok/adequate.

    – Electrification/commoditization is lowering the barriers to entry in the automotive industry (“competitive moat” aka Buffett’s “economic moat”).

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I like the styling, the seats look comfy and Recaro like and the dash seems far more ergonomic than the Tesla with its tablet on the right hand side of the driver.

  • avatar
    Fred

    As a prototype it’s kind of ho-hum, nice, but I like my prototypes to be a bit wild. On the other hand this is just to show off their automotive electronics. I’ll be more interested in reading what they are bringing to the table.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “The maker of such diverse nameplates as the 300, which debuted in 2004…”

    You mean 1955, right?

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    As a concept? Sure its boring. Concepts are supposed to be wild and futuristic.

    As a production vehicle? Wowza! That would make a nice looking sportback with a hint of Jaguar or even a next gen Tesla in the styling. Only the blind spot cameras replacing the side mirrors screwing up the interior gives me pause.

  • avatar

    It is not ugly enough to be a real Japanese car. I would mistaken it for Nio or something like that made in China.

  • avatar

    BTW regarding audio. Sony is a maker of cheap consumer audio. I have Sony audio system in my Fusion (it is presented as a premium option, as if). Nothing to write to home about. I would prefer even Bose instead.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, but they also have an ES line for professional installers. I snagged one a few years back from their outlet store and it’s a great AVR. I wouldn’t bother with the big box consumer stuff, though…

  • avatar

    “unlike Apple,”

    I would be concerned about that – probably Apple knows (unlike Sony) what it is doing, don’t you think so?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      It depends on the definition of “knows what its doing” happens to be. Knows how to screw its customers? Sure thing. Knows how to engineer a robust product? Not a clue.

  • avatar
    multicam

    I haven’t laughed out loud at a TTAC article in a while, that was great!

    ‘The Vision-S, therefore, stands as a showcase of Sony’s mobility-related technology. In a, um, vision statement, the company expressed that it “exists as a citizen of society and the Earth.”’

    What?!

    “We believe that new human lifestyles exist beyond the realms of new mobility,” the company stated. “Sony will work directly toward that ideal.”

    What?!

    “For example, the song playing on your mobile device will emerge from the car’s speakers after entering the vehicle.”

    You mean like on any Bluetooth-enabled car of the last decade?!

    “Speaking of music, something Sony knows well, the company’s 360 Reality Audio promises a “spherical sound field” in the cabin for a truly immersive listening experience”

    Surround sound?!

    ‘A dozen cameras (note the side-view “mirror” screens), a bevy of ultrasonic and radar sensors, and solid-state LiDAR maps the world around the Vision-S, providing what Sony calls a “Safety Cocoon.”’

    Safety Cocoon! Hahaha!

    Does it come with a PS4 embedded in it? I’ll buy one right now if I can play Bloodborne while my safety cocoon drives me to work!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Reminds me how enjoyable it was to be part of a group of university summer student employees. They had fun with this stuff. I bet at least a couple of the kids at the table were in tears with laughter when someone came up with that “new human lifestyles” line.

    Good times.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Varezhka: I would take anything coming out of Best Car with a grain of salt. It’s an automotive version of a...
  • Imagefont: The Fluke 87V is the standard. I have two, a backup so I can get the other one calibrated annually.
  • EBFlex: Muskrat has been a delusional snake oil salesman from the start.
  • DenverMike: To be clear, that’s 26K lbs combined truck and trailer, gross/max for non CDL. 2wd regular cab...
  • spookiness: This car seems to have a goiter problem on it’s roof. Get some iodine bro!

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber