The Las Vegas CES present is now not about laptops and flatscreens. The previous few years have seen different industries encroach increasingly on conventional tech and gadget territory, hoping that the emphasis on far-reaching futurism will rub off on their very own sectors.
The auto business has been notably enthused by this shift, which corresponds with a worldwide downturn of curiosity in typical motor reveals. One of many large stars of 2023’s present was the primary prototype from Afeela, a freshly inaugurated model spun out of a partnership with Sony and Honda.
On the one hand, this collaboration explains why the Japanese auto large has – publicly – appeared slightly lukewarm on electrical autos; it was too busy getting collectively behind the scenes with one of many world’s best-known electronics manufacturers.
However, it’s additionally a sign of what carmakers imagine is a reputable future, a world the place vehicles turn into refined cellular hubs for work and play. Full of 45 sensors and sufficient computing energy to make 800 trillion calculations a second (compared, a Tesla Mannequin X has round ten ‘teraflops’), the prototype additionally factors to a world the place some type of autonomous driving is deemed protected sufficient for on a regular basis use.
Afeela EV prototype
This mix of design and tech neatly dovetails the pair’s business pursuits within the tech and mobility fields. The Afeela prototype doesn’t actually break any new aesthetic floor, past being a coherent, competent, and well-proportioned piece of automotive design. By way of type, it’s similar to Sony’s earlier Imaginative and prescient-S idea from 2020. On the time, that idea wasn’t given a lot business credibility, however the look of a Imaginative and prescient-S02 mannequin in 2022 helped stoke rumours of Sony’s shift into the mobility market.
The demise of combustion has successfully opened up the auto market to all comers, though not each firm crossing over to mobility has discovered it plain crusing. Dyson sunk half a billion kilos into growing a totally purposeful electrical SUV, solely to understand it couldn’t make a convincing enterprise case. Apple has conceivably spent an awesome deal extra on its secretive Challenge Titan over the previous 9 years, with nonetheless nothing to point out for it – but.
Samsung has an extended historical past of constructing idea autos to showcase its display and computing applied sciences, whereas the business’s ever-increasing reliance on chips and software program noticed a latest partnership announcement between state-owned Chinese language carmaker Chery and Huawei to create a brand new EV model.
Sony Honda Mobility actually has greater than a whiff of credibility about it, not least as a result of the newest iteration of the idea seems virtually able to go. The newly fashioned firm, headed up by CEO Yasuhide Mizuno, in the end desires two or three fashions in its portfolio, this saloon, an SUV (previewed by the Imaginative and prescient-S02 idea), and probably even an MPV.
Plans are afoot to construct the primary automotive within the collection at an unnamed Honda plant in North America, with first deliveries in spring 2026. Partnerships with chipmakers like Qualcomm and even Epic Video games trace on the cellular leisure suites of tomorrow. Throw in SMH’s said model pillars of Autonomy, Augmentation, and Affinity (a automotive that may drive itself, containing personalised in-car leisure experiences, while partnering with different inventive and tech firms) and stats that emphasise processing energy, not pace or acceleration, and a brand new sort of automotive business is beginning to take form.
Extra data at SHM-AFEELA.com (opens in new tab)