It was precisely 12 months ago at CES that Sony unveiled its Vision-S 01 concept electric vehicle (EV) design. That’s right, Sony, the company more famous for TVs, cameras, and consoles than cutting-edge cars.
Our excitement at the sedan’s dazzling design was tempered by the realization that the Japanese company would probably never actually manufacture the automobile.
But a year on and Sony has just announced that it could enter the EV industry after all.
Speaking during Sony’s keynote at CES on Tuesday, January 4, Sony president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida announced the spring launch of a new company called Sony Mobility Inc. tasked with exploring the possibility of a commercial launch of not one Sony EV but two.
Sony’s second concept EV, a seven-seat SUV, rolled onto the stage to take its place beside Yoshida and the sedan that the company revealed last year and which is already undergoing road testing.
Exhibiting the same refined looks of the gorgeous sedan, the Vision-S 02’s expansive interior also includes the panoramic dash screen for controls and data as well as entertainment.
Sony also released a video (below) presenting its vision of how the Vision-S 02 might appear if it ever becomes a part of people’s lives.
Safety, adaptability, entertainment
“Vision-S has been developed on the foundation of safety, adaptability, and entertainment,” Yoshida told his audience in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
For safety, he pointed to the 40 Sony-made sensors installed inside and outside the vehicle designed to keep a watchful eye over everything that’s happening.
Adaptability, Yoshida said, “comes from Sony’s ability to personalize the cabin for each user,” though he declined to offer more details on exactly what he meant by this.
Given Sony’s background, “entertainment” is certainly easier to grasp, in this case involving the 360-degree reality audio system spoken of last year, gaming experiences via the panoramic dash screen and seat-back displays, and a fully integrated digital video service.
Highlighting the company’s prominent technologies and its evident interest in weaving them into vehicle design, Yoshida said: ”With our imaging and sensing, cloud, 5G, and entertainment technologies combined with our contents mastery, we believe Sony is well positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility.”
Part of Sony Mobility’s research is likely to focus on the way in which it might enter the market, from merely licensing its technology to other automakers, to partnering with others to some degree, to the mighty brave step of taking on the entire enterprise by itself. To build the Vision-S 01 concept, for example, Sony turned to contract automaker Magna Steyr, with Bosch, Valeo, and others also helping with the project.
While we don’t expect to see a Sony EV hitting dealerships anytime soon, it’s certainly an exciting development in an industry set for rapid expansion in the coming years. Now when is that other massive tech company going to finally unveil its EV?