Is this Tesla's next major rival?
This all began two years ago when Sony, literally out of nowhere, introduced its Vision-S 01 Sedan design study concept. This all-electric vehicle seemed to be a serious Tesla Model 3 rival, size and technology-wise. Fast forward to earlier this month at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show when Sony surprised the world again with the Vision-S 02 EV SUV. Will it only be a matter of time until our spy photographers catch one of these prototypes out testing just like they did with the Vision-S 01 mule? Perhaps. Then again, could Sony be up to something else?
A Sony executive told Reuters the company wants to add new technology partners to its EV project as part of a greater goal of transforming cars from simply transportation to entertainment spaces. Two things seem to have caught Sony's attention: 5G connectivity and ongoing autonomous driving advances.
Right now, we're only at Level 2 self-driving, which includes Tesla's Autopilot and GM's Super Cruise. Level 3 is just around the corner and the ultimate goal is complete Level 5 autonomy. Sony views future vehicles as mobile platforms, not traditional driving machines. The rise of EVs, which are easier and cheaper to build than ICE vehicles, provides Sony with a very tempting business opportunity. "We see the risk of ignoring EVs as greater than the challenge they pose," said Izumi Kawanishi, the senior general manager charged with managing a new Sony Mobility business.
He further noted the upcoming transformation of cars is similar in a way to how phones morphed into smartphones. Sony isn't wasting any time getting into the new-age car business. The report notes Sony's existing partner, Magna International, which built the two prototypes, remains on board.
Additional project members include Bosch, the German car parts supplier, a French automotive tech company called Valeo SE, and Hungarian self-driving car startup Almotive. But just because Sony is working with the right partners doesn't mean the project is guaranteed for success. Like Apple and its long-rumored EV, Sony will need to invest billions with no guarantee of success. Legacy automakers like GM, VW, and Ford have a combined 318 years (yes, that's right) of car building experience.
All three are heavily investing in EVs. Tesla, it should be noted, launched the first-generation Roadster back in 2008, a time when EVs were still not considered to be doable. Things are very different today.