Perhaps the highlight of last year’s CES was Sony’s surprise battery electric concept car, the Vision-S. At the time, we thought that the Vision-S—which looked like a cross between a Porsche Taycan and a Lucid Air—was mostly meant to show off all the different enabling technologies it contained, from sensors to entertainment. Well, the Vision-S is back for this year’s not-happening-in-Las-Vegas CES, and it seems the project might be a little more serious than we once thought.
As you’ll see in the embedded video, Sony has been testing the Vision-S, both on a test track and public roads in Austria. Why Austria? That’s where Magna Steyr is located, a contract car manufacturer that currently builds vehicles for other car companies, including the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar I-Pace, and Toyota Supra. And Magna Steyr is one of Sony’s partners in the Vision-S, along with automotive tier 1 suppliers Bosch, Continental, and ZF, software company Elektrobit Automotive, mapping company HERE, as well as Nvidia, Blackberry (maker of QNX), and Qualcomm.
Over the past year, the Vision-S’ sensor count has grown from 33 to 40, with Sony experimenting to see how it can improve the car’s 360-degree safety system. The company has also been working on the interior to make it a more relaxing place to be, according to Izumi Kawanishi, senior VP for Sony’s AI robotics business group.
A clue to a future production car comes from Frank Klein, president of Magna Steyr. “I’m very happy to see that the Vision-S was just the starting point of our joint cooperation,” Klein says in the almost nine-minute video. “We see that high-tech companies like Sony have a major impact on the mobility of the future.
Elsewhere on the Vision-S CES website, Sony discusses the Vision-S’ platform, including the fact that it can be used for a diverse range of vehicle types. It probably hasn’t escaped Sony’s attention that the market is ready to throw cubic dollars at anyone with even half an idea for a new electric car—here’s hoping that you’ll be able to read a road test of a new Sony battery EV on the pages of Ars Technica before too long.
Listing image by Sony