For the fourth year in a row, Sony brought its electric car prototype to CES to show it off to a global audience. But this year we finally got what we’ve wanted all along: a production date. We also got a name: “AFEELA.”
According to Sony’s presentation, the car will start US preorders in the first half of 2025, and the first shipment will be delivered to North American customers in spring 2026.
In terms of specs, we didn’t hear a whole lot new this year. Presumably it will have the same or similar specs as were announced originally – 400kW (536hp) dual-motor all-wheel-drive, 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 4.8 seconds, and a top speed of 240km/h (149mph). We still have no information on price or battery size.
Sony highlighted its electronics expertise by focusing on the car’s sensing and infotainment abilities. The vehicle will have 45 sensors for autonomous driving (up from 40 in last year’s presentation) and will include advanced entertainment options within the car.
Sony thinks that its entertainment and software expertise will allow it to provide a better in-car connected experience than traditional automakers. It plans to have continually updated software in the AFEELA, something that many automakers have promised but have been slow to deliver.
Gaming in cars has been a bit of a trend in recent weeks, with Tesla rolling out Steam support (turning cars into $100,000 gaming computers), NVIDIA announcing GeForce NOW cloud gaming for cars, and now Sony, a company known for its PlayStation products, pushing forward with its electric car program.
Sony will partner with Qualcomm for its in-car experience, with a platform Qualcomm is calling the “Snapdragon digital chassis.”
Since last year’s show, Sony also partnered with Honda to form Sony Honda Mobility, Inc. Interestingly, Sony got top billing in the partnership, rather than the established automaker.
This partnership helps remove one of the roadblocks to getting a car on the road, which is that it’s really hard to build and distribute cars. Honda has experience with that, and Sony has experience with software and electronics, so the two can certainly benefit each other in this venture. And hopefully Sony can influence Honda to move quicker than it has on EVs.
Missing from the show this year was Sony’s SUV variant, which it showed off last year. That said, Sony referred to AFEELA as a “new brand” today, rather than as an individual car, so presumably it could expand to encompass an SUV variant at some point.
Well, I’ll be darned, a production date. This is really happening.
When Sony originally surprised everyone with a concept EV in 2020, we thought it was a bit crazy that everyone seemed to be showing off concept EVs now. We’ve seen lots of concept EVs over the years, with varying levels of seriousness.
Sony’s could have been another one of the less-serious ones… but it wasn’t. It looked relatively refined and reasonable and didn’t make as many outlandish claims as some others might have.
At the time, we thought there was actually a decent chance this might happen, and each year since then, Sony has inched a step closer to actually releasing this car. But it was never completely certain until now, even last year we had to hedge our title.
But now we have a production date, and even that one is reasonable. Unlike some other companies that have a single prototype and yet claim they will deliver cars at scale within a year or two, Sony has been showing this prototype since 2020 now, even starting road testing that year, which means it has been working on it since at least 2019. If it hits the road in 2026, then it will have taken seven years from blank sheet to production – which just about fits the average for the automotive industry.
And while we’d like to see every EV sooner, 2026 is still ahead of the timelines for other automative laggards. Including Sony’s countrymen at Toyota, who think moving to a 50% EV mix by 2030 is a “long shot.”
As a person who has consistently criticized automakers for not moving quickly enough on EVs, or for making outlandish claims, and specifically criticized Japanese automakers for their intransigence on EVs, Sony’s vehicle program actually seems refreshingly mature. It seems to be moving at the right pace, it’s going all-electric, and it’s making a vehicle that seems realistic and doesn’t promise too much.
So while I started watching this press conference with the sense of “oh great, we get to see the same Sony prototype again,” I came out of it once again surprised in the positive at what Sony had up its sleeve.
What do you think of the AFEELA? Do you like the name? Do you think Sony has what it takes? Let us know in the comments below.