Sony Vision-S 02 prototype 7-seater electric SUV revealed at CES – presages possible EV market entry –

Sony is continuing its curious Vision-S electric vehicle experiment, revealing its second prototype, the Vision-S 02, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The SUV, which joins the existing sedan rechristened the Vision-S 01, was announced together with confirmation of probably the Japanese conglomerate’s worst-kept secret – that it is exploring an entry into the EV market.

While the creation of a second car is a pretty big deal, its design is easily the least surprising part of the reveal. The 02 takes after the 01 almost to the point of reproduction, featuring similar almond-shaped taillights, air intake arrangement, side-view cameras, flush door handles, contrasting black roof and cantrails and full-width front and rear light bars integrating a stylised “S” logo.

The silhouette has obviously been massaged slightly to facilitate the rear hatch, as has the repositioning of the rear number plate recess onto the blacked-out bumper insert, which also incorporates a large diffuser. Despite being a bigger car than the 01, the 02 rides on wheels measuring an inch smaller at 20 inches in diameter, sporting a flat face design for better aerodynamics.

Inside, the 02 features the same minimalist cabin as the 01, albeit with space for seven people (à la Tesla Model X). This means it’s dominated by screens, including a panoramic display spanning the full width of the car incorporating three screens (plus two more for the cameras), a secondary touch display on the centre console, a small screen for the rear climate controls and a further two rear seat entertainment displays.

The Vision-S cars also come with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology with integrated seat speakers, access to music streaming and the Bravia Core film streaming service and even a Remote Play function that links to a PlayStation game console at home, utilising built-in 5G connectivity to play video games.

For the latest version of the prototypes, Sony has installed time-of-flight cameras to enable facial recognition and passenger monitoring, enabling intuitive gesture and voice controls. The cars also now allow users to customise the display theme and “engine sounds”.

Additionally, the aforementioned 5G connection enables vehicle settings, key locks and user settings to be copied via the cloud to a smartphone app, as well as over-the-air updates to improve functionality and add value over time. The high-speed, high-capacity and low-latency data network also enables true remote operation as part of efforts to introduce autonomous driving capabilities – Sony has even successfully conducted a test in Japan to drive an 01 in Germany remotely.

Speaking of self-driving tech, the Vision-S cars come with a range of sensors (40 in all), including the company’s cameras and lidar sensors on the front, sides and rear of the vehicles. Again, Sony is claiming Level 2+ semi-autonomous driving capability – it is currently conducting verification tests in Europe towards an upcoming release – with eventual support for Level 4 autonomy through software updates.

Now for the boring details. The 02 measures 4,895 mm long, 1,930 mm wide and 1,650 mm tall, slotting between the Tesla Model Y and S in terms of size; its wheelbase, meanwhile, is 3,030 mm long. It weighs 2,480 kg and is powered by twin 200 kW (268 hp) electric motors – that’s 536 hp in total – that propel the car to a top speed of over 180 km/h. Suspension is handled by double wishbones all around with air springs.

Having long claimed that the Vision-S was merely a technological showcase for its products and capabilities and repeatedly denied any plans for production, Sony finally came clean by announcing it will create a dedicated new company this spring. The entity, Sony Mobility, will specifically explore a commercial entry into the EV market. A Sony electric car you can actually buy – sounds exciting, don’t you think?

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