For a company that insisted it had no interest in building a car, Sony certainly seems on the cusp of becoming a carmaker. It traveled to CES 2022 to unveil its second model, a seven-seater electric crossover called Vision-S 02, built to showcase a long list of technologies.
Sony’s design language is already established: the Vision-S 02 is visibly related to the original Vision-S (now called Vision-S 01) which made its debut at CES 2020. It’s taller and has a more rounded roof line. , but styling cues such as oval headlamps connected by a light bar and air intakes on either side of the front bumper connect it to its sedan counterpart. This relatively minimalist design suits Sony well.
The Vision-S 02 is 192.7 centimeters long, 65 centimeters long and 76 centimeters wide. It weighs 5,467 pounds and offers 6.2 inches of ground clearance. Put another way, it’s about two inches shorter, two inches lower and two inches wider than a Mercedes-Benz GLE, and about 100 pounds heavier than a Ford Expedition. Built on the same platform as the Vision-S 01, it features an air suspension system and is powered by a pair of 268 horsepower electric motors (one per axle) providing four-wheel drive over the road and a top speed of 112 mph.
However, Sony isn’t out to win design awards or rule the Nürburgring; it’s the technology inside that counts. Image and LiDAR sensors give the Vision-S 02 a 360-degree view of the environment it operates in, although the suite doesn’t unlock full autonomy; the company said it is awaiting government approval to release a Level 2+ driver assistance system in Europe. Engineers expect full autonomy to come sooner or later, so they are experimenting with low-latency 5G connections, particularly by conducting driving experiments connecting Japan and Germany.
Autonomous driving is a somewhat unexpected outgrowth of Sony’s expertise; entertainment is his specialty, and the Vision-S 02 reflects that well. Users can adjust a number of parameters, including the sounds the Vision-S 02 makes when accelerating and decelerating and the infotainment system display. Speakers integrated into the seats create what the company calls a three-dimensional sound effect, and Sony notes that the Vision-S 02 offers a high-quality movie experience, thanks in part to a fully integrated digital video service called Bravia Core that transfers footage to a panoramic screen. for the front passengers and to individual screens for those seated in the back.
And yes, passengers can play their favorite PlayStation games. They don’t even have to drag the console around because the crossover’s infotainment system can access the device remotely. Alternatively, users can play some other unspecified games that are stored in the cloud.
Sony started testing the Vision-S 01 on public roads in early 2021 and the mileage recorded since then seems to have changed its mind about the competition with the likes of Tesla. In September 2021, it said it had “no concrete plans” to break into the auto industry. Fast-forward to January 2022, and it looks like one day you’ll be able to commute in a car designed by the folks who made the Walkman. Sony plans to launch a division called Sony Mobility in March 2022, whose job it is to explore entry into the electric car market.
As for the long-rumored Apple car? Maybe come back to CES 2023.