Sony, the maker of electronics galore, decided to build a car. Unsurprisingly, it is a semi-autonomous EV. They aren’t alone in non-car companies trying to make cars. Apple is trying to get in on the game also. Sony has a huge leg up on Apple because, even though the development of an Apple car started in 2014, the company has yet to release any physical prototype, while Sony released a prototype called the Vision-S in 2020. However, nobody, including Sony, seems to have any idea why it made a car.
The history of the Sony car
Currently, the Vision-S remains a concept car, as Sony does not seem to have plans to mass-produce or sell it. Even though it appears it will remain simply a prototype for Sony, the company did release the car’s specs. Autoblog reported that it is powered by two electric motors, one upfront and one in the back, and each motor puts out 268 hp. The reported top speed is 149 mph, and it reportedly can hit 62 mph in 4.8 seconds. It has an independent double-wishbone suspension and uses an air suspension system to change the ride height by up to 0.6 inches.
In terms of technology, Sony flexed its electronic and entertainment muscles. The car has 33 sensors inside and out, which relay information to a computer that processes the data to locate objects and guide the car on the road. It also utilizes CMOS camera imaging, solid-state lidar, and radar to monitor conditions outside the car.
Inside, a time-of-flight sensor, which is a type of lidar, is used for monitoring occupants. Part of this would be to monitor the driver to ensure they are paying attention to the road. Still, Sony also noted that it could recognize occupants and provide custom infotainment settings. The infotainment system features a widescreen display across the dash that offers both instrumentation and infotainment controls. The Vision-S also has a high-end sound system with speakers in every seat to provide surround sound for every passenger.
Sony seems confused about what to do with the car
Now that they have built it, they aren’t quite sure what to do. After all, unlike a PS5, you can’t sell a car at Target or Walmart. Of course, Sony has repeatedly said there are no plans to sell the Vision-S and that it was intended to be used for testing and showcasing new products. According to Jalopnik, the car has gone back and forth from Austria and Japan several times for real-world testing, but now Sony seems to be pondering what the next step is.
Mike Fasulo, president of Sony Electronics, stated back in 2020, “The reason we designed the car was, from [Sony CEO Kenchiro Yoshida’s] view, to understand from scratch what the engineering feats are, so that we can provide what we do best when it comes to trends in automobiles, autonomous or otherwise.”
More recently, Izumi Kawanishi, senior vice president of Sony’s AI and robotics department, stated, “We don’t have a concrete plan at this time because our current phase is a research and development phase. We have to investigate what is our purpose in contributing to mobility service. That is our basic idea, and we have to continue the R&D phase.”
Apparently, Apple is developing a car also
According to MacRumors, there has been a lot of back and forth on whether Apple would be producing an entire car or simply self-driving technology that could be partnered with an existing vehicle. Apple is usually very tight-lipped about what they are making, so most of the information about the Apple car is just rumors. However, the company did confirm that work was being done on a self-driving car, and Apple has also received an autonomous testing permit from the DMV.
It will be interesting to see if Sony decides to start selling the Vision-S and if Apple can overcome leadership problems, internal strife, and a lack of sponsors to deliver an Apple-branded car.