Sony, Honda roll out prototype of ‘Afeela’ EV that uses Qualcomm tech

Sony, Honda roll out prototype of ‘Afeela’ EV that uses Qualcomm tech

Jan 4 (Reuters) – Japan’s Sony ( 6758.T ) on Wednesday unveiled a prototype of the new “Afeela” electric vehicles it will build together with Honda ( 7267.T ), saying it will use its content as much fun as it seems to be a player in the next generation of cars.

Sony gave a glimpse of the Afeela, which has rounded corners and a sleek black roof, at the CES 2023 technology trade show in Las Vegas. The car will use technology from device maker Qualcomm Inc ( QCOM.O ), including its “Snapdragon” digital chassis.

Sony’s long-awaited push into electric vehicles – it announced a joint venture with Honda in March – shows how manufacturers are increasingly focused on the in-car experience, which offers the potential to sell content through in-car subscription services, particularly when autonomous driving skills improve.

“To realize intelligent mobility, continuous software updates and high-performance computing are needed,” Yashuhide Mizuno, chief executive of Sony Honda Mobility, said at the show. “To that end, we will work closely with Qualcomm.”

Qualcomm on Wednesday launched a new processor, the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC, that handles both driving assist and cockpit functions, including entertainment. Previously these functions were handled on separate chips, and bringing them together could help reduce costs, a Qualcomm executive told Reuters.

Sony is also looking to exploit traditional strengths in sensors. Afeela will be equipped with more than 40 sensors, Mizuno said. The car will use the 3-D creation tool “Unreal Engine” from Epic Games, the maker of the “Fortnite” game series.

For Honda, the venture with Sony could allow it to accelerate what has so far been a slow shift to electric. It has also struggled over the years to make a profit in the luxury vehicle market with its Acura brand. The new EV will carry a premium price, the company said.

The joint venture between Sony Group Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd aims to deliver its first electric vehicles by early 2026 in North America.

Sony shares rose 1.6% in Tokyo trade, while Honda shares were flat. The benchmark Nikkei 225 (.N225) is little changed.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Additional reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee in San Francisco; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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