Sony still considering electric car
Tuesday 14th September, 2021 - 9:26am
Sony stunned the automotive world in January 2020 when it revealed its own car – the Vision-S Concept.
The company best known for building the Playstation was seemingly considering building its own autonomous electric car to take on the likes of the Tesla Model S, Audi e-tron GT and Kia EV6. It’s now been more than 18 months since the Vision-S was revealed and Sony’s executive vice president, Izumi Kawanishi, has spoken publicly for the first time about the brand’s plans.
Unfortunately for anyone hoping to drive a Sony-built car, the company’s plans are anything but clear. Speaking to industry publication Auto News, the executive made it clear the company hasn’t committed one way or the other about the future of the Vision-S.
“We don’t have a concrete plan at this time because our current phase is a research and development phase,” Kawanishi told Auto News. “We have to investigate what is our purpose in contributing to mobility service. That is our basic idea, and we have to continue the R&D phase.”
Sony outsourced the actual building of the Vision-S concept to Austria’s Magna Steyr, a company with plenty of history manufacturing cars for Toyota (Supra), BMW (Z4) and Mercedes-Benz (G-Class). It’s also responsible for building the Jaguar I-Pace, so it has experience with EVs too.
Sony said the Vision-S sat on a skateboard-style EV platform with a pair of 200kW electric motors that allowed for a 0-100km/h time of just 4.8 seconds.
The primary goal of the Vision-S is to showcase the company’s automotive technology, which includes safety, autonomous driving and entertainment elements. The car is equipped with cameras, radar and LiDAR that allows it to scan the road 360-degrees around the car to create what Sony called a ‘virtual cocoon of safety’ and allow for autonomous driving.
Just as importantly the cabin featured the company’s infotainment tech, including a digital screen that ran the entire width of the dashboard and individual seat-mounted speakers that allowed each occupant to cater their own entertainment experience.
According to Kawanishi, this is key to Sony’s interest in the automotive sector.
“What have a lot of content – movies, music and gaming – and we have to utilize that content and technology in the vehicle,” he explained. “In order to build such entertainment space in the vehicle, we need to understand the opportunity and build the right cabin system.”
Sony isn’t the only non-automotive company working on a car. Rumours of Apple’s interest in building its own EV have gathered steam in recent weeks, with the company reportedly in discussions with suppliers in South Korea and Japan about possible production plans. Apple has been working on its own car, codenamed ‘Project Titan’ since 2014 and the latest reports claim the company could have a car on the market by 2025 at the earliest.
Google is also highly-active within the car industry, but instead of building its own bespoke vehicle (it originally had plans to but aborted them), it’s concentrating on self-driving technology through its spin-off company, Waymo. The company has a fleet of ‘robotaxis’ on the road in Phoenix, Arizona.