Sony is not building a car.

Sony displayed the Vision-S electric car at CES 2020, and people lost their damn minds. But they’ll never make this thing in production. Why’d they do it?

Sony makes cameras. Sony makes sensors. Sony used to make computers, and still makes phones. They also still make car audio, including units with CarPlay.

Sony made the Vision-S prototype to remind the manufacturers at CES that they make all the components needed in a modern EV:

  • Dashboards with LCD displays as far as the eye can see.
  • Time of flight sensors
  • CMOS cameras
  • Lidar
  • Radar
All the cool kids are doing full-width dashboard screens

All working in concert to make an ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) to identify other vehicles, pedestrians, signage, and lanes. If you’re making a car with any sort of accident avoidance or adaptive cruise control, these are precisely the sorts of things you’d want to shop for.

Of course, building a car means using multiple suppliers, too – in this case, Sony sourced some components from Bosch and Continental. No car manufacturer makes their own tires, for example.

The car nuts among us at CES talk about how it hits 0-60 in under 4.8 seconds, or has a max speed of 149mph. None of that matters. It’s never going to be built for you and I.

I mean, the only way Sony would do it is if they believed Apple were doing it (see multiple rumors for the past 5 years) and decided they should be first, to regain Sony’s former (1970s and 1980s) glory. It seems very unlikely.

It takes ridiculous amounts of hands-on work to assemble a car, huge amounts of tooling, and then there’s distribution and after-sales care and maintenance. But they’d be happy to sell you Lidar and cameras for your own.

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