By on January 6, 2022

During Sony’s keynote presentation at CES 2022, the company revisited the VISION-S 01 sedan it had previewed in 2020 only to follow up with the new VISION-S 02 crossover (above) and the announcement of Sony Mobility. While Apple has been flirting with building an automobile for years, Sony has actually decided to roll the dice by launching a new company and even has functional prototypes to help woo the public. 

Sony Mobility Inc. won’t become an official business until spring of 2022 and the car-selling arm is really more of a pilot program. But the groundwork has been laid for the electronics firm to become a fully-fledged automaker.

The company had previously shown off the VISION-S 01 to showcase how its sensing and communications hardware could be adapted for use in automobiles. At the time, it looked like Sony wanted to be an industry supplier specializing in connected vehicles and advanced driving aids. However, CES 2022 has made it clear that the business is open to the idea of selling cars, even if we’re more inclined to believe it’s just setting itself up for strategic partnerships with existing manufacturers.

“With our imaging and sensing, cloud, 5G and entertainment technologies combined with our content mastery, we believe Sony is well positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility,” Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida during the keynote address.

Sony believes it can leverage its camera, robotics, and AI tech for automobiles as the world transitions toward electric vehicles. With that in mind, it might be better to think of its VISION-S prototypes as a testbed for its goods and services. The 02 crossover (Sony calls it an SUV) featured a way for passengers to play the latest PlayStation gaming console from within the car, allowing it to network with the users’ home device — importing/exporting profiles, save states, and even entire games.

It also helped the company highlight the cloud platform it shares with the 01 sedans, which has been driving around Europe for the last two years. But it’s not clear if Sony has been cruising the prototype around to test its connectivity features or test the vehicle itself. Regardless, it’s good publicity for whatever the company decides to do next.

The cars themselves are about what you’d expect. Interiors are heavy on the touchscreens and light on design, mimicking the smartphone-type styling that’s become tragically commonplace among EVs. Exteriors similarly are forgettable, matching most other compact electric vehicles coming from businesses that don’t already sell millions of automobiles every year (and some that do). Sony’s prototypes have 5G connectivity and feature some unique features — including remote driving from the other side of the world. But they’re basically the same thing everyone else has been working on these last few years with Sony giving it a unique twist.

But none of that really matters if the cars can’t ever be purchased. All Sony has said is that it’s “actively exploring” a commercial launch and that hinges on the business actually being able to manufacture vehicles at some kind of scale. Unless Sony is ready to redefine itself as a company (spending a fortune in the process), it’s going to need partners to make that possible on even a small scale. Meanwhile, the brunt of its press materials spent more time exploring the merits of the entertainment hardware going into the VISION-S models (e.g. panoramic touch screens, advanced audio systems, streaming services, interior lighting solutions, voice command, data clouds) than the stuff that propels them around.

That makes it feel like Sony is a lot more focused on selling those items than an entire EV. But it’s not exactly ignoring the VISION-S prototypes either. They’re supposedly game for over-the-air updates (OTAs) that will keep them fresh long after the initial purchase and utilize the same adaptive, skateboard-style platform Sony has been working on over the last few years.

On the VISION-S 01, that has yielded a midsize all-wheel-drive sedan clocking in at 5,180 pounds. Power is split between two 200kW electric motors at the front and rear. Top speed is limited to 149 mph. The VISION-S 02 crossover is roughly the same dimensions, just with more ground clearance and headroom. It uses the same powertrain and suspension (double wishbones at the front and air springs in the rear) while coming in at 5,467 pounds with a limited top speed. However, Sony claimed it would still be able to exceed 112 mph.

Though without more details on the batteries they’ll be using and some relevant range estimates, it’s a little hard to take either all that seriously. Sony said both vehicles were test platforms and subject to change upon production and I guess we’ll just have to wait around to see what happens.

 

[Images: Sony]

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19 Comments on “Sony Launching Electric Car Company, Showcases Second Vehicle...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “even if we’re more inclined to believe it’s just setting itself up for strategic partnerships with existing manufacturers”

    Yes, at most.

    Sony isn’t going to be building cars, which today entails losing billions for many years until you make your first yen of profit.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “streaming services, interior lighting solutions, data clouds”

    What are people doing in their vehicles?

  • avatar
    redapple

    Vaporware
    Dont waste my time
    This will come the month after an apple car and that 3 wheeled jobbie.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Sony believes it can leverage its camera, robotics, and AI tech for automobiles as the world transitions toward…”

    …fewer cars for the proles.

    You didn’t drive that.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    There is a temptation for companies like Sony to make electric cars. They are much simpler than ICE cars and are really just more complicated washing machines but increasingly with sophisticated IT systems. Consequently I think you’ll see a number of new car makers from big non car makers appears as the barriers to entry are lower. The smart ones will team up with car makers. The minows in the car Industry like Suzuki and JLR should seriously look at being open to mergers.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “the barriers to entry are lower”

      You’ve heard of Tesla? Just ask them about the ease with which they got their ‘more complicated washing machine’ to market.

      Ask GM how easy it is to get the battery part right, or Audi or Polestar why their drivetrains are 1/3 less efficient than Tesla’s.

      Ask any of them how they think they can source enough batteries to go all-electric in a few years, with volume.

      Sony would get destroyed in the car market.

      • 0 avatar

        “Sony would get destroyed in the car market.”

        By Apple after Apple comes up with the revolutionary iCar later in the game (if Steve Jobs was still alive).

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        SCE to AUX: I disagree in the case of Sony, Sony has a ton of cash and they have a huge leg up in technical resources. I agree that it would be tough to do and it may not happen, but Sony definitely seems like one of the companies that could do this if they sensed an opportunity. They definitely seem like they are way ahead of where a company like Rivian was 5 years ago in expertise and resources (I know that’s a questionable example).

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I think the more accurate headline here is: “Magna wants to become full OEM, sees Sony branding as irresistible opportunity.”

  • avatar
    zipper69

    It seems on the surface, judging by the somewhat vanilla styling of the S-02 that this is chumming the auto waters to see who might bite.

    Vietnam? India? Turkey? this will all shakeout by the end of ’22

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    That design is about as exciting as a soap dish.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    This is just getting silly. All of these EV start ups will cease to exist when the SAAR dips. It went from 13 million to 10 and that’s all it took for GM and Chrysler to go belly up – what do you think will happen to 30 new EV start ups?

  • avatar
    ccto

    This is what Sony needs to do, in 2021, to make news at CES. They’re solidly a top-five consumer electronics brand but nowhere near the standout number-1 they were when Boomers were buying Trinitrons or Gen X their walkmans. Can Sony generate this kind of buzz today with their TVs? media players? phones? Nope. Do they still even sell phones in my country? And do they still make laptops? …. uh, I dunno, and worse for Sony, I don’t care. But could I possibly be convinced they can blend hardware and software a little better than the traditional car companies? Yes, yes I might give them a solid “maybe” on that one. At least I’m willing to watch to see how this plays out.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Their phones are very good, if overpriced at the high end, but they have no carrier agreements and zero marketing (in the US) but I have owned several with the last being an XZ1 Compact a few years ago and they were always excellent. The lack of carrier support means no wi-fi calling on my carrier however and with all of my travedl thjat makes them a nonstarter sadly.

      Having said that, no…they aren’t going to make a car. See margins on automobiles versus PlayStation 5 Consoles for the reason.

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