Honda-Sony’s zany ‘Afeela’ naming for its new prototype electric vehicle may just be the eyebrow-raising brand name in the car industry right now. But at the same time, this EV is one of the best examples of what people mean when they say that cars are turning into “computers on wheels.”
It is certainly a smart-looking EV, but more crucially, the Afeela blends the best of Honda’s next-generation EV vision with an engaging new platform for Sony’s tech and entertainment products, including A.I., augmented reality, and virtual reality. It’s like an iPhone meets game console on wheels.
As self-driving car technology advances, the software-defined passenger experience will move forward in different ways, differentiating brands from one another.
The Honda-Sony collaboration was recently on display at the San Diego headquarters of tech giant Qualcomm, whose semiconductors and chipsets power the car’s software. The Afeela brand, or commonly referred to as Sony Honda Mobility, plans to start taking orders starting in 2025, with U.S. deliveries set to begin in 2026.
Inside, the user experience is tailored to individual passengers, while outside, Afeela’s “media bar” allows the vehicle to interact with people. The features of this prototype, while still under development and subject to change, represent broader industrywide trends.
The touchscreen dashboard entertainment system extends the full width of the car, reminiscent of Honda’s only production electric car—the funky tiny Honda e—serving up full-screen movies, music, navigation and PlayStation 5 remote play with a controller. As we see on today’s smartphones, facial recognition also unlocks the car and opens the doors.
The car automatically adjusts the seat, steering wheel, sound system, dashboard lights, and themes based on previously selected settings for each driver.
For example, selecting a Spider-Man theme will change the colors of the lights and images on the interior dashboard, and even play the movie’s theme song when accelerating.
Speakers in the seat, headrest, doors, and dashboard give passengers an immersive 360-degree audio experience that is groundbreaking. The music pumps through the seat and the movie’s sound effects surround you as Spidey swings through city streets on the car’s dashboard screen. Exterior screens on the front grille can display the theme, the weather, the charging status, or even the score of a football game. Fortnite characters or Spider-Man can drop in between the taillights and waves.
Afeela cars will also have automated driving features. Some highlights of the prototype are the 45 cameras and sensors, including lidar, radar and ultrasonic, to enable hands-free driving on freeways in certain conditions. “We have to change mobility technology,” says Sony Honda Mobility president Izumi Kawanishi.
The automotive industry has been a very traditional business, but as it looks to the future, it is “growing up” by embracing IT products and software, Kawanishi said.
As we said, this car takes the tech game forward—as it’s like an iPhone meets game console on wheels. Featuring a sublime combination of Honda’s latest EV tech plus Sony’s tech and entertainment products, including A.I., augmented reality and virtual reality, the Afeela promises to be a real game-changer when it launches in two years.