One year after its unveiling at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the Sony Vision-S electric car is now testing on public roads.
Sony didn’t provide much other detail on how things were progressing with the car. The short video it released for CES 2021 was essentially just some B-roll of the camouflaged prototype being driven on a test track and some picturesque European roads.
Still, it’s impressive to see that Sony is pushing ahead on development of what was originally unveiled as a mere concept car—albeit one that many observers believed was too finely detailed to be just a concept.
The sedan looks largely unchanged from the show car that debuted in Las Vegas last year, retaining the panoramic roof (similar to the Tesla Model 3), and a single wide screen that spans the entire dashboard, like the Byton M-Byte crossover.
The prototype also retained the concept’s external camera pods, which take the place of conventional sideview mirrors. That technology is already available in Europe on the Audi E-Tron, but doesn’t meet United States regulations.
Sony has been vague on production plans, but the company does see cars as a possible area of expansion beyond its traditional electronics business. The emergence of electric powertrains and connectivity drew Sony’s interest, Izumi Kawanishi, the company’s senior vice president in charge of robotics, and Daisuke Ishii, creative director, said in an in-house interview published last September.
Sony Vision-S prototype testing
The company already had some of the applicable technology in-house, the executives said, but had still never built a car before. So the development team turned to automotive supplier Magna, which provided engineering services for chassis development.
Magna has since unveiled its own EV platform, which will underpin the Fisker Ocean crossover. At the time of the Vision-S concept’s unveiling, Magna said it did not develop the complete platform for that car, however, so the Ocean may be using different underpinnings. Or the landscape surrounding how contract manufacturing is seen may have evolved a bit.