The electronics giant isn't about to start making cars.
There's been no shortage of electric vehicle startups over the past few years, most of which have fizzled out and folded before ever assembling a fully production-ready car. The reason for that is simple: car manufacturing is a complex, highly-regulated, capital-intensive business. All of that makes it an incredibly difficult one for a cash-strapped, unestablished newcomer to enter.
That brings us to Sony, which just unveiled the rather stunning autonomous Vision-S electric vehicle concept at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Naturally, that got many onlookers curious as to whether Sony was thinking about having a go at producing a volume EV, but it seems we already have an answer: no.
That's according to The Drive, which spoke to Sony spokesperson Shinichi Tobe about the company's fully-functional autonomous EV.
"At present, we have no plans to mass-produce and sell the Vision-S," Tobe wrote the publication in an email, even though it is a working, road-worthy prototype. "All aspects of its structure, engineering and styling have been designed with legal and safety regulations in mind," he said.
So if Sony isn't planning on going toe-to-toe with the likes of the Tesla Model S, what is the purpose of the company's Vision-S concept? To showcase where Sony is headed with regard to advanced infotainment features.
Simply put, the concept "is the embodiment... of the key themes in Sony's approach to the future of mobility," Tobe told The Drive. This includes "the deep sense of reliability and safety provided by the evolution of sensing technology, the new value proposition entertainment can bring to mobile spaces, and the constant evolution a platform can undergo through next-generation connectivity."
The autonomous driving system of the Vision-S leverages Sony's imaging and sensory technologies, including cameras and ToF (Time-of-Flight) sensors to scan its environment, while Sony AI, telecommunication, and cloud technologies power much of the in-car software. It features a long, wrap-around digital display on the dash that provides access to navigation, multimedia, side-view camera feeds, and other pertinent info.
Considering that industry-wide, car infotainment systems are trending in that general direction, much of the Sony Vision-S might indeed make it to production in some form. Just not the car itself.