back to article Sony, Honda tease EV that aims to be a lounge on wheels

Sony and Honda have unveiled Afeela – a software-defined vehicle the two present as a Qualcomm-powered entertainment system on wheels. Or you could use it for transport. "We will nurture Afeela as mobility with intelligence. In addition, we will pursue new possibilities on top of conventional car values, so that mobility can …

  1. Filippo Silver badge

    >the company will allow creators and developers to develop applications and services that run on Afeela and provide a digital platform for “co-creation”.

    Good luck with that. I'd be surprised if even one third party actually bothers. A target market that's in the tens of thousands, maybe low hundreds of thousands if they're very lucky? Not even worth the effort of installing the dev kit. Android Auto runs on, what, two hundred millions vehicles? And it still only has a handful of useful third-party apps.

    1. Andy 73 Silver badge

      Except...

      True but... captive audience!

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      How many smart TVs, hi-fis etc are littered with poor, unwanted, unloved and non-removable crapware and, in many cases, abandonware?

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Runs Android

    Security updates for how long?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Runs Android

      Literally everything I don't want in a car. I don't even trust Android based tablets that aren't even on cellular. The app store is a dumpster fire. Then we here that the worlds most upstanding game company Epic will be pre-loading it with their crapware. (I am not surprised, they probably threatened to sue if they weren't included).

      Then you have half-baked self drive, with the added bonus of the obligatory oversized rims that look like they stretched a rubber band over them. Thus ensuring sub-par handling, and that the inevitable flat will also take out the rim and possibly cause a roll over.

      Giant fiddly touch screens instead of dedicated controls, with a bonus side of distraction as your passengers try to multiplayer Fortnite on the highway.

      That's gonna be a hard no for me, even if they have to release updates for it for seven years under the new right to repair laws.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    “mobility with intelligence" for those without it.

    "a unique and endearing presence for users,” sounds like something out of a spam email.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      mobility can become a unique and endearing presence for users

      Bingo!

  4. snowpages
    Joke

    I know finding new brand names is difficult but..

    .. isn't this some sort of sexual predator??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know finding new brand names is difficult but..

      It certainly doesn't sound like something Jimmy Saville might have said.

  5. Ball boy Silver badge

    Missing a trick!

    Strap a mattress to the roof and bolt a barbecue to the rear and they've solved - at a stroke - the housing shortage too!

    Or maybe it's just that Honda know something about future traffic jams that we can only guess: they're betting we'll need a /lot/ more to entertain us while we queue-up in our cars...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And it'll be packed with crapware that is of no use but which the Sony/Honda marketing droids say is utterly necessary 'cos their focus groups say so. Said crapware will reflect the undying contempt so many smart equipment suppliers have of their customers beta testers , in that it will be in removable <long, withering look at Microsoft, Samsung, Xiaomi etc>

  7. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    It's just another bloody saloon!

    I've just had a butchers at the product website. - https://www.shm-afeela.com/en/ (which is just as awful as most automotive company efforts, but don't get me started on that).

    At the very least, I was expecting something along the lines of my old Espace - a veritable lounge on wheels, complete with armchair comfort. God I miss that car's comfort and sheer practicality. The EV equivalent at the moment is, I suppose the VW ID Buzz, another comfortable looking lounge on wheels but sadly that's way out of my price range.

    So, all in all, a bit meh.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: It's just another bloody saloon!

      my old Espace - a veritable lounge on wheels

      We had (for a while) a Chrsler Grand Voyager. Most comfortable car seats I've ever sat in and the middle seats could pivot to face inwards.

      Same it had all the build qualities of French cheese and drank petrol like an MP drinking whisky.

  8. jmch Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Lounge on wheels???

    I was expecting something like a VW bus with, for example, sofas arranged around 3 sides with a big TV on the other, maybe a couple of Playstations in the corner.

    It's just a normal car - entertainment screens for the rear passengers are about a decade old, the only first (at least for me) seems to be the entertainment screen for the front passenger. Since it's Level 3 autonomous the driver screens should still be for driving-related stuff, not entertainment.

    Couple of interesting things.... If it's really Level 3, Honda could follow Mercedes in being Level 3 certified in California, while Tesla and it's 'Autopilot' and 'Full Self Drive' marketing BS is still stuck at Level 2

    ... and either the newscaster on the clip was AI-generated or she has a REALLY weird mouth!!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Lounge on wheels???

      "... and either the newscaster on the clip was AI-generated or she has a REALLY weird mouth!!"

      For the first time in my life, not being a Top Gear fan, I felt I was missing some Jeremy Clarkson comments :-)

  9. abend0c4

    eMotor sounds

    Nothing screams "innovation" as loudly as reinventing the custom ringtone.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And a snip at $$$$$$

    $$$$$$ etc

    Most EVs, not priced for your average Joe or Josephine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

      Try an MG5. You might be pleasantly surprised. I certainly wouldn't willingly go back to a rattlewagon

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

        https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-67005620

        That never happened with my old MGB.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

          I still find it difficult to believe that leaning hard on the brake pedal wouldn't stop the car. I've never had any car where the engine could overpower the brakes, unless this is a purely brake-by-wire setup, which sounds lethal.

          1. Big_Boomer Silver badge

            Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

            Electric motors produce peak torque at zero rpm. Try holding your 185lbft petrol/diesel car on the brakes when you are at your engines peak torque value in 1st gear. You will be fighting both the inertia of the car AND the 185lbft from the engine.

            This kind of problem is similar to the runaway cruise control problems. All cruise controls now have to have a manual override and the same needs to be added to all electric cars. If I remember correctly shouldn't all electric cars have battery isolator switches? Maybe that switch needs to be in reach of the driver?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Should already be there

              Tapping the brakes is supposed to cut out cruise, self-drive, and override the throttle in case the genius behind the wheel caught both pedals in a panic stop. Removing your foot from the brake should then leave everything but the throttle disabled.

              Same could not be said for our loved analog cars of yesteryear, where even at low RPMs, the engine would win over the brakes, which would rapidly overheat and become completely ineffective.

          2. munnoch Bronze badge

            Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

            Cars with regenerative braking do have a hook into the physical braking mechanism so that it can be defeated and allow the generator to provide the braking force and capture some of the kinetic energy that would otherwise turn to heat.

            Until now this has been done with complicated hydraulic gizmos similar to how your ABS/traction control works by altering the pressure to the wheels. It ought to be fail safe and step aside when sensors tell it something isn't right or under panic braking so that you have a straight through connection from the pedal to the wheels.

            Of course in the quest to minimise costs manufacturers would love to replace the messy hydraulic bits with electric servos directly operating the brake pads which puts you are entirely at the mercy of the software. Maybe we have reached that point.

            Yet another reason not to buy a modern car.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

          There's a good deal of scepticism about that story. There's quite a lot of detail that doesn't ring right

        3. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

          Not likely to happen to and old MG, they are lucky if they even start.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

        Try an MG5

        Sure - as long as you don't care about MG being owned by (effectively) the Chinese government.

        Has the car firmware been audited? Is there a remote kill switch?

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          Re: And a snip at $$$$$$

          As much as a Volvo (owned by China's Geely, FYI) models XC60 and XC40, Tesla Model 3s and Ys, BMW iX3 and X3 and Volvo's Polestars for starters.

          Some even come with a coat hook that'll take a tinfoil hat.

          Oh, and there's your iPhone as well.

  11. munnoch Bronze badge

    Japanese car makers are really playing catch up at the moment. See current crop of TV advertising -- Mazda pleading that simply because its Japanese it must be good, or the self-charging hybrid oxymoron from Toyota.

    Which is a shame because they generally have always produced better products for the average man on the street. Or should I say were when it was about mechanical reliability and competency in the basic business of moving people and their stuff from A to B.

    But a BEV is such a simple thing at its core that anyone can do it well enough. As evidenced by that space now being infested with Chinese brands, BYD, MG etc. turning out perfectly competent stuff at basement prices. There might be a bit (or a lot) of market distortion in there, but that won't stop us importing them by the millions and being appropriately grateful to Poo Bear.

    Which leaves the premium space and the Japanese brands never quite got that in the same way as the European manufacturers.

    I'm not sure what's left for them.

    Kinda sad. Spent quite a lot of my adult life in Japan. Bought 3 cars, brought 2 back to the UK, the younger of which is now 17 years old and soldiering on just fine.

    At the same time have zero (less if it was possible) interest in buying a "new" car. For precisely the reason that its seen as an internet browser on wheels with all the disfunction that brings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ""they generally have always produced better products for the average man on the street."

      I seem to remember a time when Japanese cars were notorious for rusting themselves into oblivion. Datsuns being a particular marque oft seen shedding scales of rust in their travels

      1. munnoch Bronze badge

        Thats true, they started off quite badly. Due to the fact that cars in Japan simply don't rust (local climate is much kinder) so the need for rust proofing in some export markets wasn't understood initially.

        The European brands of that era really weren't that much better and mechanically far less reliable.

  12. Kev99 Silver badge

    They might as well line it with white tufted satin with brass handles along the outside.

  13. NickHolland

    no thanks?

    I tend to buy used cars, and tend to keep them for a long time.

    Long-term cars packed full of short-term technology doesn't make sense to me.

    I'm happy with my low tech car...I'm glad it at least has a mechanical link between the transfer case lever and the transfer case -- if the computer gets taken over, I won't be able to control the throttle (that's a wire), may not be able to steer (probably electric boosted), won't be able to take the trans out of gear (that's just a big electrical switch to tell the computer what to do), but at least I can disconnect the transmission from the wheels. And fortunately, the rest of the car isn't connected to the Internet...I hope. I'm kinda regretting giving up my old one with a clutch, mechanically linked transmission, hydraulic power steering.

    Of course, no car company gets rich selling to me. So ... not like I'm going to have much influence on this.

    1. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: no thanks?

      It does seem weird to me that car manufacturers are taking a completely different tack with their electric offerings. In essence, the cars should be pretty much the same, except for the engine part and some ancilliaries like heating but there is no reason why we couldn't get a very simple electric saloon with few bells and whistles. I know a lot of people (including myself) that would be interested in something like that.

      I'm certainly not in the market for a vehicle that follows me around and markets stuff to me. I kinda like the outside look of the Ioniq 5 but that big long dashboard screen would be sooo distracting while driving. Same with any car that has a bright, complex dashboard screen. Driving is hard enough, especially at night, without having all these additional distractions in the car itself.

  14. YetAnotherXyzzy

    A living room on wheels? If Sony has a hand in the software, make that a rootkit on wheels. Just ask Mark Russinovich: better safe than Sony.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's uncanny...

    Here's a Japanese television report that shows a little of Afeela's innards. YouTube Video

    Nice that they hired that lady from the Uncanny Valley - I'll bet it's hard for her to find work like this.

    Seriously, watch the presenter do the introduction at the start of the video and tell me that's not AI generated; the way her mouth moves, the robotic hand movements, and the eerie dead-eyed stare... *shudder*

    1. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: It's uncanny...

      Is she deliberately doing a "robot" to give the impression of how futuristic this car is supposed to be? It certainly does come across as pretty creepy.

  16. Ahab Returns

    Disaster Proof

    45 cameras and sensors - what could possibly go wrong with that? In the last week I have fitted four new sensors in my ageing diesel fleet, fortunately none of them were required to avoid smashing into something, or someone.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like