07 January 2023
Sony publicly showed for the first time a new car that it will produce with Honda. The car, announced in October, appeared for public viewing last week at the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The electric vehicle, called the Afeela, will use technology from Qualcomm, including its "Snapdragon" digital chassis.
Sony's long-awaited push into electric vehicles shows how manufacturers are increasingly paying attention to the driver's experience in cars.
Yasuhide Mizuno is the chief executive of Sony Honda Mobility. He told the CES trade show, "In order to realize intelligent mobility, continuous software updates and high-performance computing are required...To that end, we will work closely with Qualcomm."
Qualcomm recently launched a new processor, the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC, that handles both assisted driving and cockpit functions, including entertainment. Previously those functions were handled on different chips, or computer processors. Bringing the two together can help reduce costs, a Qualcomm official told Reuters.
Mizuno said that Sony is looking to use its traditional strengths in sensors. The Afeela will have more than 40 sensors. The car will use the "Unreal Engine" 3-D creation tool from Epic Games, the maker of the "Fortnite" series of games.
For Honda, the project with Sony may permit it to speed up what has so far been a slow move to electric. It has also struggled over the years to make gains in the luxury vehicle market with its Acura brand.
"As safety and security are essential to mobility, we will integrate Sony's sensors and the Honda safety along with other intelligent technologies," Mizuno said.
Production of the vehicle will take place at one of Honda's 12 factories in the U.S. The U.S. was chosen for the launch because electric vehicles are already popular there. Japan came second as Honda's home market, and other markets, including Europe, will follow, but no dates have been set.
Mizuno said the company expects to take early orders in the first half of 2025 and send the first cars to buyers in North America in the spring of 2026.
I'm John Russell.
John Russell adapted this story from Associated Press and Reuters reports.
Words in This Story
chassis – n. a frame upon which the main parts of an automobile are built
mobility – n. the ability or tendency to move from one position or situation to another usually better one
cockpit – n. the area in a boat, airplane, etc., where the pilot or driver sits
function – n. the special purpose or activity for which a thing exists or is used
luxury –adj. a kind of costly produce that buyers want but do not need
brand –n. a group of products made by a company that are all sold under one special name