As expected, Sony opened their CES 2020 show by discussing their upcoming next-generation gaming console, the long awaited PlayStation 5. Boasting about their new console’s hardware features, Sony discussed the PS5’s 3D-audio, ultra-high speed SSD, and hardware-based ray tracing capabilities.
Sony even snuck in a peak at the PlayStation 5’s strangely familiar logo, letting us all know what the text adorning our entertainment centers for the next decade or so will look like. Then, to close out the show, Sony had just a little bit left to show us: They drove a Sony-branded, electric-powered prototype automobile onto stage.
You read that right. Sony seems intent on throwing their chips into the
Tesla industry electric car industry. It’s not clear exactly what motivated this digression from business as usual at this particular moment in time, but as The Verge points out, it’s a venture that would allow the uniquely positioned tech conglomerate to highlight their many strengths.
Many gamers whose only interaction with Sony is through their game consoles and first-party titles may not realize that Sony is a huge company whose ventures lie far beyond the boundaries of gaming. Excluding Sony Pictures, which many are likely familiar with, Sony also has business units which range from computing, audio equipment, and photography/videography to semiconductor manufacturing, music record labeling, and financial services (including their own banking institution).
In fact, this is not even the first time Sony has gotten into the electric car business, as they had stated their interest in the market as far back as 2011. Sony has already been in the business of providing one of the key components of electric vehicles: the lithium-ion batteries that power them. In 2015, Sony has further revealed ambitions to join the self-driving car business, due in part to the large demand for its imaging sensors (Sony controlled about 40% of the smartphone imaging market at the time)–another key component of would be future-cars.
Viewed from this angle, the idea that Sony would want to join the market is less of a surprise and more a reified inevitability, as they’ve been positioning themselves for this for almost a decade. While we haven’t gotten behind the wheel of the Vision-S, at least stylistically they’ve done an excellent job.
The Vision-S is sleek and modern, invoking images of the 2020 Porsche Panamera with it’s long, elegantly shaped rear hatch, mixed with the design sense of Tesla’s 2019 Model X. It is an aesthetically pleasing, visually high-end automobile, and Sony seems intent on making the inside just as high-end.
Inside, the Vision-S features an edge-to-edge moon roof, rear-facing headset-mounted screens, and a door-to-door, dashboard-spanning display that seemingly doubles as a driver’s HUD (speed, odometer, etc.), navigation tool, and 360-degree camera. The seats themselves look comfortable, like cockpit seats, while maintaining an air of spaciousness.
Sony’s press release following the show also highlighted their implementation of 33 embedded sensors into an advanced safety system called the “Safety Cocoon”; an accompaniment of sensors that monitor 360-degrees around the car and act as an early risk preparation and evasion system.
While specs for what’s under the hood have not been released, there are plenty of photos flying around, not to mention the full video of Sony’s CES 2020 showing. If you don’t have an hour to spend, however, feel free to check out the gallery above and leave your thoughts in the comments below.