They said it was just a concept. No plans for production. Nothing to see here, in other words. And that’s fine — but here we are, just one year after Sony shocked the automotive community with the launch of its Vision-S electric car at CES 2020, and there is a for-real, fully functional, 536 horsepower (!) prototype of Sony’s electric car currently undergoing public road testing in Austria. How do we know? Because Sony just told everyone … and they have a video to prove it!
VISION-S | Public Road Testing in Europe
Keen-eyed observers will notice that this particular Sony Vision-S is not the same vehicle shown at last year’s CES. That car, maybe, wasn’t a runner, but this one most definitely runs. What’s more, there are incremental improvements and developmental changes being reported that would indicate this is far more than a PR stunt for Sony. “When the concept was announced, Sony said the car would have 33 sensors, including CMOS, ToF (Time of Flight), and LiDAR,” Wilko Walters, an Associate Partner at IBM iX, shared on LinkedIn. “That number has been bumped to 40!”
Sony also revealed more details about the Vision-S as part of CES’ digital 2021 platform, including what the company calls the Personalized Cabin. The car’s interior ToF and driver monitoring cameras identify the driver, then make adjustments to the seat positions, mirrors, lighting, HVAC systems, even dashboard visuals, to “ensure that the environment inside the vehicle’s cabin is optimized for the individual,” in Sony-speak. All of which is a step up from our current car, a Volvo XC90, which uses the keyfob to ID its driver. Not ideal if there’s a big height difference between two drivers!
All of this kind of makes sense in the context of Sony’s “software first” approach to the car’s design. Still, there’s only so much of a potential market for Sony here, right? I mean, they say they’re not going to build an electric car, but then why keep developing the platform? Why go to the trouble of building several of these things? Even Sony’s own sparse news on the car reads, “Sony will continue to further develop the vehicle, and plans to conduct driving tests in other regions as well going forward.” Which — I mean, that reads like a statement of intent to me. I think Sony is going to build a car.
I’m not alone, either. “One of Sony’s partners that’s working on the vehicle, did say they have a feeling all involved parties want to bring this vehicle to the streets as soon as possible,” said Walters. “Indeed, going from concept to public road testing in a year is a swift turnaround, and is a big step towards making the car a reality. We can only assume that the car was already quite well-developed when it was unveiled in 2020.”
What do you guys think? Is Sony going to build this car for real and beat Apple’s Hyundai to the tech-company car launch, or is this just a marketing gimmick to help sell more PS5s? Scroll on down to the comments and let us know your take on the Vision-S, and whether or not you’d take one of these over, say, a Polestar 2 or Lucid Air.
Sony Vision-S | Digital Interior
Source | Images: Sony.