Remember last year’s news when Honda and Sony announced their partnership to create Sony Honda Mobility (SHM)? It was a joint venture that would result in an electric vehicle (EV) that combines the best of Honda’s automotive experience with Sony’s expertise in multimedia and electronics. Today, the two companies announced at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the creation of Afeela, which is what the joint venture’s upcoming EVs will be branded as.
Afeela doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue quite as well as simply Sony or Honda, but SHM says that the new brand name represents “feel,” which is supposedly what the brand aims to capitalize on. That begins with the design of the pre-production prototype that they’ve just unveiled. Though it still doesn’t have a model name, the pre-production prototype features a minimalist, clean design that looks modern, though a bit too anonymous. It’s basically a more production-ready design of the Sony Vision-S Concept that was showcased at 2022 CES.
The main highlight of the prototype’s exterior design is its “media bar” that’s flanked by slim LED headlights. The media bar is an interactive display that can showcase animations such as an abstract simulation of the weather. Its functionality is mostly aesthetic for now, but they expect to add more useful functionality in the future that will be developed by Afeela’s future partners and creators.
Some of the other design highlights of Afeela’s pre-production prototype include a black roof with a panoramic sunroof, a full-width LED taillight design, digital side mirrors, and 21-inch wheels. Oh, and as for its size, the car measures 4,895 mm long, which puts it within the same midsize category as a Toyota Camry or Mazda 6. But since this is an EV with no need for an engine, the wheelbase is much longer at 3,000 mm, almost as long as what full-size cars like the Mercedes S-Class have.
Unsurprisingly, Sony’s work is mostly concentrated on the minimalist interior, which is filled to the brim with screens. At the front, the full-width bezel contains four screens, one each for the driver and front passenger, while the outer two screens are for the digital side mirrors. SHM also used this opportunity to announce its partnership with Epic Games, which will bring in-car gaming into the infotainment system–though we certainly hope this is only when the vehicle is stationary.
Other design flourishes that the interior has include a yoke steering, a center console with a BMW iDrive-style center control knob, ambient LED lighting, and a dual-screen rear entertainment system, just to name a few.
SHM has not yet unveiled any powertrain specifics, but they did mention that it will feature all-wheel drive (AWD)–guaranteeing the fact that Afeela’s first model will come with a dual-motor electric drivetrain. Also confirmed is its Level 3 autonomous driving systems, and this is thanks to 45 sensors and cameras on the exterior and interior of the vehicle. The SoC for these sensors will be developed by Qualcomm, and it will utilize the Snapdragon Digital Chassis.
That said, SHM is also working on Level 2+ which means a degree of autonomy is possible even in busy cities and stop-and-go traffic. For perspective, cars with Toyota Safety Sense, Honda Sensing, or Subaru EyeSight are considered Level 2 systems.
The Afeela-branded EV is planned to go on sale in the spring of 2026 in North America, while pre-orders will begin in the first half of 2025 if things go according to plan.