Last year, at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Sony took everyone by surprise by unveiling a stunning-looking electric car. It was a design study and nothing more, and many felt it would stay there because it seemed improbable that electronics giant would seriously consider getting into automobiles.
A year later, we learn, during the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event, that an actual Sony car is being tested on actual European roads.
Sony confirmed this during a presentation at CES 2021, publishing a short video of the prototype being tested, but providing no further details. Sony sees the rise of connectivity and electric powertrains as a gateway to the automotive industry.
However, there’s very little confirmed knowledge about the company's precise plans. For one thing, profits are not the same in the automotive industry as in electronics. For another, if Sony were to move forward, it would surely be with a partner.
As for the prototype Sony car, it doesn't seem to have changed much since last year, keeping its panoramic roof and its particular screen on the dashboard. Still visible on the outside are cameras instead of side mirrors.
The Vision-S concept also comes with 33 sensors, including 12 cameras, three solid-state lidars and nearly 20 radar and ultrasonic sensors. This network can underpin many driver assistance systems, but the cameras could also be used to recognize occupants in order to load customized parameters. At least that's the way it was presented by Sony last year.
Sony had also mentioned an all-wheel drive configuration with a pair of electric motors offering 268 hp, and which have the potential to catapult the Vision-S concept from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds.
See also: CES 2020: Sony Presents… a Concept Car
Automotive supplier Magna provided engineering services for Sony's original concept. Since then, Magna has unveiled a platform for electric vehicles, which will serve the Fisker Ocean SUV. Could this be the start of something bigger?
We’re still in the realm of speculation, and frankly any several different scenarios are possible. Stay tuned.