Sony has released a number of videos showing their concept for electric cars Sony VISION-S, which they presented for the first time with a surprise move a year ago at CES
The videos provide new information on the car’s design and engineering, comments from partners Sony works with, and reveal that Sony has begun testing its car on public roads near their engineering center in Graz, Austria.
We haven’t heard much about Sony’s EV project since CES ‘debut last year, but Sony took the case this CES just for a year to pull the curtain a little more.
We still do not have information on the availability, price or size of the battery. In fact, although there are some parts of this video that show the driver’s display and the range of the car, both the battery percentage and the remaining range units are zeroed, so we can’t even get any idea from that. And Sony has not said a word about production or dealership plans, which means there is still a lot to do before VISION-S gets into the hands of customers.
But the new video still offers some interesting insights. It switches between Japanese and English, but you can use YouTube’s closed captions for translation:
Sony says it has increased the number of autonomous driving sensors to 40, from the previously announced 33. This doesn’t mean much on its own (cars have a wide variety of sensors and types), but apparently Sony felt they needed more than originally planned. .
Sony’s “software-oriented design” is the focus of much of the video, showing how Sony can use its entertainment experience to make better car software.
The most eye-catching feature of the original VISION-S concept was the large widescreen, which covered the entire dash, and Sony seems to be sticking to it as they continue to develop the car. At one point, a PlayStation controller connected to the screen appears, playing Little Big Planet, a PlayStation game.
Sony partners spoke about the importance of communications and the cloud in today’s vehicles, and a Bosch spokesman praised the features of Sony’s human-machine interface (side note: Bosch recently took a blunt stance against EV, even though it is a major supplier of EV equipment).
This human-machine interface seems to include face recognition, speech and gestures. Part of the video shows a thermal image of the cockpit while the driver makes a one-handed gesture, and also shows a face and speech recognition system that is being trained
Although Sony did not say when the VISION-S would be released, Continental’s Horst Schaefer said it “felt that all parties involved wanted to take the car out on the streets as soon as possible”.
See more in another short video about “road tests”, which has no voice, but shows how the Sony VISION-S drives on some snowy Austrian public and private roads. The car is camouflaged, but it doesn’t seem to hide much – especially considering that we already saw it without camouflage at CES last year.
When Sony first showed this concept last year, we were skeptical about whether it was the real deal, or just a tool for Sony to showcase the potential applications of its in-car entertainment devices.
The fact that they’ve stuck to the project over the last year and have an impressive list of traditional car delivery partners that appeared in the video suggests that this may be more realistic than we originally thought.
But we still have low performance and the video is still full of very solid, corporate PR-style statements that make us want more. It feels that way everyone there is a prototype of the EV nowadays and so few of them have really come a long way that we have to be skeptical of every new one we see.
As we said after the last announcement, at least Sony’s concept is not unusual, unlike some other presentations. Nothing in VISION-S is particularly unreasonable. That could It will certainly be made, at a reasonable but premium price, with the specs we’ve seen – which include many of the expected features of EV concepts these days. And Sony is big and established enough to bring together the necessary resources and partners.
The face and gesture recognition features, the giant screen and several other proposed features really expand the boundaries, but they are close enough to reality that they don’t cry right away about this project.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the project is that it comes from a big old Japanese company. Sony is by no means a start-up, and large Japanese conglomerates are known for their relatively conservative business decisions, so a big move in a capital-intensive and fast-growing industry (especially EV) is worth a eyebrow or two.
Japan, meanwhile, is making awkward soft commitments to green cars, ostensibly to protect its relentless, hybrid-obsessed and anti-EV automotive industry (see sample statements from Honda, Toyota and Mazda). And yet Sony is still continuing with an interesting entirely EV project.
Sony is much smaller than Toyota or Honda, but almost as big as Nissan and much larger than Mazda. The only Japanese carmaker to show ongoing support for electric cars is Nissan, and the rest offer almost nothing. They have several upcoming models, some of which are striking and others look quite fun, although the company is obviously hostile to their existence.
So there is definitely a vacuum in the Japanese EV industry and Sony can fill it. If they do, there is plenty of room for them to climb the ladder of Japan’s largest companies and steal market share from larger companies that think they can sit on their laurels and continue to sell carbonated hybrids even until 2035, when the world will have moved far beyond the idea of burning dead dynamite to reach the store and back.
But, as we always say, everything has to do with the car being on the road, fast and in large numbers. Sony may take a stake from these other companies, but they will have a much better chance of doing so if they beat them in the market. Fortunately for Sony, much of the competition (internally) and internationally) drags his legs quite hard, so they have an opening if they manage to assemble it fast enough.
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