News

Sony and Honda's new Afeela brand inches its first car closer to reality

Afeela’s all-electric saloon is due to land in North America in 2026, but no plans for European launch have been announced just yet

Afeela – the electric car brand born from a partnership between electronics brand Sony and car manufacturer Honda – has unveiled the latest evolution of its all-electric saloon prototype at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, more closely previewing the road-going model that’s slated to arrive in 2026.

Compared to the original Afeela prototype we saw at last year’s CES, the updated version features a new front bumper and more pronounced nose design, which incorporates a full-width light bar and a unique digital ‘Media Bar’ that can be customised with different themes or display information like the vehicle’s charging status. 

Afeela has ditched the previous iteration’s digital side mirrors for conventional ones, tweaked the rear bumper and tail-light design, and added a short bootlid that gives the car a more saloon-like silhouette, too.

There have been similar refinements inside, but the car’s fairly minimalist interior still features a large digital driver’s display, now behind an updated steering yoke and flanked by an enormous screen that spans the rest of the dashboard. It’s nice to see the cabin has a set of dedicated climate controls on the dash, as well as a rotary dial between the front seats to help navigate the infotainment system – much like BMW’s iDrive setup.

There’s lots of scope for personalising the car’s cabin as well, via display settings, sound effects, lighting and themes, including some inspired by movies and video games.

Other features include a unique noise-cancelling system that combines Honda and Sony’s expertise and makes the car feel “like you’re in a movie theatre while on the move”, according to the brand, which also says the sound system delivers “soul-stirring spatial audio”. If true, it’ll provide an ideal environment to enjoy the Sony gaming and movie content that will be available on the car’s panoramic central screen.

That wasn’t the only gaming reference in the car’s presentation at CES 2024. The updated Afeela prototype was actually steered onto the stage by the boss of Sony Honda Mobility (the joint venture behind Afeela), Izumi Kawanishi, using a Playstation 5 controller. In fact, the latest Afeela prototype will soon feature in Gran Turismo 7 racing simulator – which is available exclusively on Playstation consoles – thanks to a partnership with the game’s developer Polyphony Digital.

What’s more, the car’s augmented reality navigation and experiences are being powered by the Unreal Engine 5.3 platform from Epic Games – maker of the hugely popular video game Fortnite, which also produced the graphics for the Hummer EV

Afeela also announced at CES 2024 that it’s collaborating with Microsoft to use its Azure OpenAI Service for a ‘conversational’ virtual assistant in the car. Microsoft's Jessica Hawk, Corporate Vice President, Data, AI, and Digital Applications, Product Marketing said during the presentation: "the aim is to transform the in-vehicle experience and bring your digital life into the vehicle".

Driver assistance technology is another focus and the Afeela prototype has been fitted with a LiDAR sensor in the array located at the top of the windscreen, along with numerous cameras and radars fitted elsewhere. Afeela aims to deliver Level 2/2+ driving assistance under a wider range of driving scenarios, with the potential to reach Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities under certain conditions.

The Afeela prototype measures 4,915mm long, 1,900mm wide, 1,460mm tall and has a wheelbase of exactly 3,000mm. For context, that’s roughly the same size as a Tesla Model S, Lucid Air or BMW i5, meaning the as-yet-unnamed production model will have some stiff competition when it finally lands.

At least the prototype gets all-wheel drive thanks to two 241bhp electric motors (one on each axle), which also makes for a combined power output of 482bhp, and powering them is a sizable 91kWh lithium-ion battery. No range or performance estimates have been hinted at yet, but the prototype boasts a maximum charging speed of 150kW and air suspension. We expect all of those features will be carried over to the road-going car.

We don’t yet know when the finished, production-ready version of the Afeela prototype will be unveiled or how much it’ll cost, but it’s due to go on sale in North America towards the end of 2025, with the first examples arriving in the US in spring 2026. No plans for a European or UK launch have been announced at the time of writing.

Click here to read more about Sony's all-electric Vision S 02 concept...

News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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