It has been just over a year since CES 2020. As always new technologies littered the show floor and we all got a surprise when Sony decided to show…a car. Why would a consumer electronics company want to get into the automotive industry, but hey, it seems to be a trend. Now it’s not like I thought the VISION-S was some sort of joke, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around a Sony-branded car. At most, given the user interface software and autonomous sensors being the focal points, I thought this was just a really good display car to showcase the features. But no, one year later and it seems like Sony is serious about producing the VISION-S if their newest video is anything to go by.
First off, if you are looking for any specifications regarding the VISION-S, you are out of luck. The only estimations we have are from last year’s CES when the car debut. As a reminder, the VISION-S has dual motors producing 400 kW (536hp), a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds, and a top speed of 149mph. No battery size or range was given and we are still in the dark. The video did have some instrument panel shots, but those shots had the battery percentage and range zeroed out, so no luck.
There is however a shot of the car’s app at 1:41 that shows that a 30% gives the car a range of 93 km. This would mean that a 100% charge would give you about 310km (192 miles) of range. While the Porsche Taycan might be able to get away with a range like that, I doubt that the Sony VISION-S will be able to. There is also a point in the video below at about 1:14 where I can maybe make out 333km of range at (what appears to be) about 90% battery.
Still, this should not be taken as any sort of official confirmation of the range as the car is still very much in prototype and for all we know the app could be using placeholder text.
The only concrete update we got is that Sony increased the number of sensors for autonomous driving from 33 to 40. Doesn’t mean much without good software, but I’m sure the extra data streaming in won’t hurt.
The video mostly goes on about how Sony is leveraging its experience as a consumer electronics brand to try and have the VISION-S provide superb software and user experience. Coincidently I wrote about the upcoming importance of good UI a few months ago, so Sony I will be expecting a free car for my consultation fee. We got a look at some of their sensors which look to interpret gestures and maybe even facial expressions of occupants. We also got a good look at the dashboard screen which takes up the entire dash and looks to be made up of three large individual screens. The middles screen was shown of running Little Big Planet and being played with a Playstation controller. Will Sony look to bring some competition to the in-car gaming market which Tesla has been building up? Will the Playstation 6 just be the VISION-S? Who knows.
While the video is mostly shots of people talking, whatever views we did get of software interaction looked good and smooth enough, so I doubt that Sony will fail to deliver a good user experience from the software side, it’s everything else that they will need help with. And it certainly looks like Sony is teaming up with a lot of top tier companies to bring the VISION-S to reality.
Just within this eight-minute video, we see people from Magna Steyr, AImotive, Bosch, Continental Engineering, Electrobit, Valeo, Vodafone, and ZF Friedrichshafen. And that is only the companies that were shown in the video, there are more helping with this car as well. It seems Sony has found a partner for every aspect of the car and is taking this project seriously.
Admittedly it is still hard to come to terms with a Sony car and the video doesn’t exactly give anything of substance, but given the number of partnerships Sony has made and absence of any outlandish goals for the car, it seems like it might come to fruition. Thinking of how baren the Japanese electric car market is (sans Nissan) it is funny to think that it’s possible that Sony might be the premier Japanese EV producer while Toyota and Honda move at a snail’s pace.
Are you guys as surprised as I am that Sony appears to be taking this very seriously? Let us know down in the comments below.