Jan 7, 2020

Sony surprises CES with electric vehicle concept

Photo: Sony

Sony made waves at CES in Las Vegas on Monday by unveiling an electric vehicle prototype under what the tech giant calls its "Vision-S" initiative.

Why it matters: It adds a deep-pocketed player to the competitive electric vehicle design and tech field.

  • "I believe the next megatrend will be mobility, as vehicles become more connected, autonomous, shared and electric in the coming years," CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said onstage.

The state of play: It's not yet clear, as The Verge points out, whether the car is ever meant to go into production, or whether it's instead a way to package concepts and tech that could be used by others.

  • Either way, Sony clearly is looking to position itself in the future of transportation.
  • "To deepen our understanding of cars in terms of their design and technologies, we gave a shape to our vision," Yoshida said.

Where it stands: Sony said the vehicle is the result of work with partners including the giant auto supplier Magna, Bosch, BlackBerry, Qualcomm and others.

  • The CES presentation and a new website offer little sense of commercial plans for the ideas around in-car entertainment, sensing, and more that Sony is touting.
  • Yoshida also said the newly designed platform for the vehicle can be applied to other vehicle types, like SUVs.

What's next: Engadget's Mariella Moon notes there are "lots of questions for Sony to answer."

  • "We need more details on its pretty elaborate in-car entertainment features, and what is the company planning to do after this concept?"

Go deeper: Electric vehicles face an uncertain policy landscape in 2020

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One of the big themes at CES this year has been the race to own the media experience when cars go driverless.

Why it matters: The complications around who will own the data, how connectivity will work and what "driverless" actually means haven't stopped companies from making big announcements this year.

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Big corporate players launch new electric vehicle group

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Amazon, AT&T and IKEA are a few members of a new corporate alliance launched Wednesday that's aimed at deploying more electric vehicles in corporate fleets.

Why it matters: The players in the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance are big. And corporate fleets are seen as ripe for more EV adoption, given the advantages of centralized charging, bulk purchases and more.

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Everyone's piling into the car of the future

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Some of the biggest surprises at CES came from big-name companies that seemed to stray from their traditional expertise: Sony debuted an electric car, Hyundai introduced a flying taxi and Toyota launched an entire city.

Why it matters: The mobility mash-up shows how multiple industries are converging around their desire to own the transportation experience for consumers — whether they are riding alone, or with strangers, with a robot behind the wheel or soaring over cities.

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