What We Know About Honda and Sony's New Afeela Car
Sony's Playstation on wheels is finally a reality, but it could be a while before all its capabilities are unlocked.
Sony Honda Mobility Afeela
From the makers of the Walkman and the PlayStation comes … a Sony automobile? At the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2023, Sony unveiled a prototype for its first vehicle — a five-door electric sedan produced in partnership with Honda that will launch under the brand "Afeela".
The name's meaning is a bit of a head-scratcher because it's neither a Sony electric car nor a Honda electric car. It's both. Project chief Yasuhide Mizuno likened it to "an interactive relationship where people feel the sensation of interactive mobility and where mobility can detect and understand people and society by utilizing and sensing AI technologies".
Did you get all that? We, neither. But here's what we do know about Honda and Sony's new Afeela brand.
Sony Honda Mobility Afeela: A Long Time In The Works
The Afeela brand is a joint-venture between Sony and Honda (as Sony Honda Mobility or SHM), Japanese companies that know a thing or two about tech and cars. Sony has been teasing the idea of a "PlayStation on wheels" since the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, where the company revealed its first concept — a four-door sedan called the Sony Vision-S. That prototype came together with help from Bosch, biotech firm Genetex, chip maker Nvidia, and others.
A Study In Minimalism
While the Sony Vision-S debuted with Porsche Taycan-inspired looks, the Sony EV prototype more closely resembles the Lucid Air luxury EV with its low profile and clay mold-smooth exterior lines that, at a glance, don't appear to show any door or hatch handles. Instead of traditional wing mirrors, the Afeela sedan has tiny cameras that feed the rear side views to screens in the cockpit, similar to the Honda e electric hatchback. For a party piece, the Afeela has wraparound lights on the front and rear; the former arrangement features a media bar that displays the Afeela marque. Owners can personalize the display to broadcast different colors or weather, effectively transforming the car into a rolling personal billboard.
Sony Honda Mobility Afeela
The Cabin: A Technology Showcase
Inside, the dashboard takes center stage. It's one flat screen that stretches from door to door. SHM went with a steering yoke instead of a wheel, à la Tesla. It gives the cabin a definite gamer feel, though the practicality of such a helm on a vehicle is still in question. It's possible, if not likely, the production car will employ a more conventional setup, though anything is possible from a Sony electric car.
Driver-Assistance Tech Galore
The Honda and Sony electric car sports 45 cameras and sensors to accommodate its active safety systems and SAE Level 3 semi-autonomous driving capability, wherein the car can drive itself under specific conditions, but still requires oversight. Currently, only Mercedes-Benz has received approval to enable such a system in the U.S., and only in Nevada. By the time Afeela reaches customers, hopefully the tech will have proliferated to other states and brands.
You've Got Time To Save Up
SHM expects to begin accepting pre-orders in 2025, with deliveries tentatively scheduled for 2026. After that, the plan is to add an SUV, a second sedan, and possibly an MPV.