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Sony Announces Launch of EV Company Sony Mobility Inc. At CES

At CES 2022, Sony’s keynote presentation included an announcement that they will be launching a new company that focuses on mobility and electric vehicle initiatives. The new company, to be called Sony Mobility Inc. and is expected to launch in the spring. 

Electric Vehicle Aspirations

Sony’s vision for the future includes entry into the electric vehicle industry, with the ultimate goal of selling its cars to the public. As mentioned during his keynote speech at CES Sony's President and CEO Jim Ryan said "Sony is well-positions as a 'creative entertainment company' to redefine mobility." Sony will take the company's experience with customer electronics and media devices and apply that knowledge to AI And robotics technologies. Their ambitions are not far behind those of the Japanese automakers it will be competing with. Toyota and Subaru have yet to release a battery-using electric car for sale, while Mazda and Honda each have one electric model available for the public to purchase. Nissan is currently the furthest along, with one electric car model currently on the road and another one coming soon.

Other tech companies are also planning to enter the electric car industry. Speculation that Apple will make its own electric vehicle has been circulating for years, although no firm plans have been announced. South Korea's LG Electronics, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, and Taiwan's Foxconn have also expressed interest in entering the EV business.

The current industry leader is Tesla Inc. Since launching its first electric vehicle in 2008, the company has grown rapidly, with its market capitalization now roughly four times higher than Toyota’s. In 2021, Tesla’s deliveries rose by 87%, reaching a record high for the company.

Tesla’s market dominance is mainly due to it being the only serious player in the market for quite some time, giving it a significant lead over other automakers. However, that appears to be changing, with both Volkswagen and Toyota announcing plans to spend up to $170 billion on electric vehicle initiatives in the near future. General Motors Co. and Chrysler-owner Stellantis have also announced plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in their EV ideas.

Vision-S EV Prototype

Sony has already unveiled a working prototype electric vehicle, rolling out the Vision-S EV at the CES convention two years ago. The Vision-S concept car is packed full of technology, with 33 sensors for self-driving and safety features, a large panoramic screen across the dashboard, and a sound system created in partnership with Bosch. The sedan’s specs include a top speed of 240km/h (149mph), the ability to go 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 4.8 seconds, and 400kW (536hp) dual-motor all-wheel-drive.

Vision S-02 Prototype

At this year’s CES, the company unveiled a second model in their concept line, an SUV version of their Vision-S EV. The new SUV, officially designated the Vision S-02, uses the same EV/cloud platform as the sedan, incorporating 40 sensors all over its body for autonomous driving and parking tasks. It also adopts the same large display panel and high-quality entertainment system.

The Vision S-02 seats seven in its large interior and uses Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensors to enhance the usability of the car interface with support for intuitive gestures and voice commands. The vehicle uses mobile communication, including 5G communication, to link the vehicle to the cloud. Vehicle settings, key locks, and user settings can all be modified and a new function will let users customize a display theme and certain vehicle sounds.

The sensors installed around the vehicle include cameras, radar, ultrasonic, and lidar sensors for its driver assistance system. These sensors analyze the surrounding environment in real time so that the driver can accurately judge what is going on around the vehicle. The vehicle will also have over-the-air updating and remote operation capabilities.

The new concept SUV will have the latest in-vehicle entertainment and gaming capabilities, including being able to play games through a remote connection to a PlayStation console or streaming games through the cloud. The seat speakers create a three-dimensional sound field and the fully integrated digital video service allows shared or individual video playback.

Additional Information

During the CES presentation, both vehicles were displayed side-by-side on stage. The two are almost identical in design with the SUV being larger with a higher roof. The wheel of the sedan were open-spoke rims, giving a more traditional look than the SUV’s aerodynamic wheel covers. Demo videos for both Vision-S models have been posted to YouTube. No information on availability, price, or battery size has been released to date.

Bringing these vehicles to market will be a challenge, but Sony may have the electronics manufacturing capability to make it work. The company has already tapped a partner to produce its prototypes, Canadian auto parts maker Magna International. The vehicles will be produced at a Magna International factory in Austria. Other partners in the venture include autonomous vehicle start-up AImotive and automotive technology company Valeo SE.

In December 2020, the company began testing the concept sedan on public roads in Europe in preparation for the release of its Level 2+ driver assistance technology. While the vehicle does have autonomous-driving capabilities, the driver still must be alert and monitor the vehicle in self-driving modes. Sony is planning a commercial launch of their Vision-S concept vehicles, but a release date has yet to be announced.

Sony is a well-diversified company, selling scores of televisions, cameras, and gaming consoles to the public. Creating another electrical product for the masses is not a far stretch and its name recognition could help it make a major entry into the EV industry. In any case, it is one more potential revenue stream in a string of streams the company has already established. Shares in Sony rose 4.2% after the new plans were announced.