Sony breaks into the car game with the all-electric Afeela sedan
Sony has been inching into the EV market ever since it surprised CES 2020 with the impressively put-together Vision-S concept. It officially launched an automotive business two years later, partnered up with Honda a couple months after that, and solidified things with the establishment of Sony Honda Mobility Inc. before 2022 let out. Now, Sony Honda has launched the Afeela brand, showing a new prototype to add some major eye candy to the dry nuts and bolts of a new company launch. The sporty, fully streamlined Afeela sedan looks even sleeker and techier than the show-stopping Vision-S and has a more concrete future.
As stuffy as "Sony Honda Mobility Inc." (SHM) feels, "Afeela" is somehow worse. It rings just a little too cutesy, and we have trouble reading it without hearing "I feel ya." The name is in fact based on the word feel, and we'll let each reader decide if Sony Honda's explanation brings all the right feels: "Afeela expresses an interactive relationship where people 'Feel' mobility as an intelligent entity, and mobility 'Feels' people and society using sensing and network IT technologies."
So, there you have it.
Of more interest to the average car guy or gal, the Afeela brand debut comes with an early preview of its first product – a clean, cool sedan that reminds us of a less droopy, more attractive take on Hyundai's new Ioniq 6 "streamliner." Like the latter, the Afeela sedan's dramatically sloped roofline dips down below the belt line, but this one ends in a stronger, more defined rear-end with wraparound taillight design. The overall design is rather minimalist beyond that, with subtle volumes taking the place of hard-drawn character lines.
Sony Honda Mobility has fleshed the Afeela sedan out well beyond a pretty concept shell, calling it a prototype upon which a production car will be based. The 193-in (490-cm) five-seater uses a suite of 45 cameras and sensors, along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon Digital Chassis computing platform, to offer planned Level 3 autonomy in select driving scenarios and Level "2+" autonomy in a broader range of situations, including city driving. The sedan also uses what SHM terms a "media bar" to communicate with other road users via its expansive lighting array.
The tech-driven design continues inside the doors, where a full-width digital dashboard offers discrete driver and passenger displays and digital side-view camera screens. The greater interior architecture curves along with those end-cap camera screens, creating the feel of an enveloping "soft cocoon."
SHM positions the Afeela interior as a space for entertainment and interactivity, along with basic transportation, and plans to mix in some AR and VR features. It's started work with Epic Games' Unreal Engine toward this end.
The Afeela sedan's debut won't be immediate, but Sony Honda is aiming to introduce the production model in 2025 and begin North American deliveries in spring 2026.
Take the full prototype tour in the short video below.
Source: Sony Honda Mobility