CES 2023 sees the return of Sony’s electric car — and it’s coming in 2026

sony afeela car
(Image credit: Sony Honda Mobilty)

Sony has returned to CES 2023 with its electric car concept in tow for the fourth year running, but this time the wannabe automaker had some important announcements for the world. Specifically what the new EV range will be called, and when it’s scheduled to hit the road.

The car, which is being developed in partnership with Honda, will be called Afeela. And pre-orders are set to open in early 2025, with North American deliveries scheduled to kick off in the spring of 2026.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Sony’s automotive ambitions, but it’s clear that Sony and Honda have plans to change the way people interact with their cars. According to Sony Honda Mobility CEO Yasuhide Mizuno, the car’s uniqueness will rely on Sony’s existing experience with AI, entertainment, VR and AR.

“Afeela represents our concept of an interactive relationship where people feel the sensation of interactive mobility” Mizuno said, “and where mobility can detect and understand people and society by utilizing sensing and AI technologies.”

sony afeela car

(Image credit: Sony Honda Mobilty)

While that may not make much sense on its own — overuse of buzzwords can do that to a speech — it’s clear Sony is planning ahead for a future where cars do all the driving. Not only does that mean the Afeela prototype is packed full of sensors, but Sony is leveraging its experience with entertainment and software to improve the in-car experience.

Recently Sony suggested that its electric car could feature a fully-functional PS5, and the CES presentation would seemingly corroborate that. There’s going to be some kind of gaming capability, in any case, alongside movies and music, and it would be crazy for Sony not to exploit its long history with the PlayStation system.

The Afeela design hasn’t changed a huge amount over the years, and while this is still a prototype, it gives us some idea of what to expect from the production model. So expect some kind of sedan, complete with the thin light bars several electric cars are so fond of on the front and rear.

If past specs are anything to go by, this car has a 536hp dual-motor drivetrain, with a 0-62 mph time of around 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph. Sadly, Sony has kept battery and range specs close to its chest, and we may have to wait a year or two to find out how far Afeela can travel on a single charge.

sony afeela car

(Image credit: Sony Honda Mobilty)

The prototype has 45 different sensors packed in as well, including LiDAR, ultrasonic, radar and optical cameras. According to Sony, those cameras offer a 360-degree view around the car, and considering how many there seem to be, I don’t doubt that assertion. Some of them are inside to keep tabs on the driver and where their attention is focussed.

Of course, connectivity will be key with Qualcomm-powered 5G and Sony promising a stream of over-the-air updates to improve the car over time; this is pretty common in the modern world of cars. 

This connectivity sadly means that some features will be locked behind paid subscription services, though it’s unclear what they might be. A general navigation and connectivity package, like that offered by Tesla, may not be so bad. But we definitely won’t want Sony to follow in BMW’s footsteps and lock basic features like heated seats behind a paywall.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Sony Honda Afeela, including what the name actually means. Some kind of acronym? We’re not so sure. In any case there’s still two years before pre-order open, and three before Afeela actually hits American roads, so there’s plenty of time to find out. Presumably, we’ll be hearing more at CES 2024.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.