Sony and Honda have built a prototype of a new electric car. The vehicle, which is branded Afeela and looks like a midsized sedan, was driven on stage at CES 2023 on Wednesday.
"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," said Yasuhide Mizuno, Sony Honda Mobility chief executive.
The Afeela logo appears on a narrow screen or "media bar" on the vehicle's front bumper. The bar can also interact and share information such as the weather or the car's state of charge with people outside the vehicle, as demonstrated on stage. Mizuno didn't offer many details on why the name Afeela was selected, but said the word "feel" is at the heart of the mobility experience.
Leaning into Sony's strength in sensors, the Afeela concept car comes equipped with 45 cameras and sensors on the interior and exterior of the vehicle, some of which will be able to detect the driver's condition to help ensure safety, the company said. The car will use technology from Qualcomm, including its Snapdragon Digital Chassis, while Unreal Engine graphics technology, which was used in General Motors' Hummer EV, is slated to design interfaces for the vehicle. Thanks to Sony's side of the partnership, the Afeela car is expected to have best-in-class entertainment for movies and games on tap as well.
(Also at CES: BMW's i Vision Dee doubles as both a car and a friend. And VW unveiled a car clad in digital camouflage that changes color along with your music.)
"For the design, we are taking an approach that aims to set new value standards for mobility as we evolve automotive design to focus not only driving dynamics and performance, but also on software networks and interfaces," Mizuno said.
Sony and Honda announced a joint venture at CES last year to develop and build electric cars. The JV, called Sony Honda Mobility, aims to have preorders established for its electric vehicle in the first half of 2025, with sales to follow in the latter half of that year. The first shipments are earmarked to be delivered to customers in North America in the spring of 2026, Mizuno said.
The company appears to be focusing on online sales, and Sony Honda Mobility has previously said it wants customers to "take part in the product development process," whatever that means. The car will be produced at Honda's facilities in North America.