Can Sony Do What Apple Couldn’t With an EV?

The Apple Car is dead, but you could (maybe) be driving an Afeela by 2026

The Afeela EV, an electric car created by Sony Honda Mobility. Can this vehicle do what Apple couldn't?
The 2024 Afeela prototype, created by Sony Honda Mobility.
Sony Honda Mobility

The Apple car is officially dead. After beginning the secretive Project Titan around 2014, an autonomous electric car initiative that was kept under wraps for a decade, the tech company told employees on Tuesday it’s winding down the development in favor of focusing on artificial intelligence, according to Bloomberg. Can’t say we didn’t warn you: more than two years ago, we said that if you want to bet on a Big Tech EV, “don’t bet on Apple.

Instead, we put our money on a different player making the leap from consumer tech to consumer vehicles: Sony. Back in 2020, the Japanese corporation did what Apple never had the courage to do by unveiling an electric concept car at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. It was a bold move, but it elicited more head-scratches than applause, and many saw it as a stunt rather than a serious challenge to automakers like Tesla. But now, it’s the seemingly all-powerful Apple who has bowed out, and against all odds, Sony is rocketing ahead with plans to sell its EV.

The first EV from Afeela, the name of the car brand created by Sony Honda Mobility, a joint venture between Sony and fellow Japanese conglomerate Honda, is expected to be available for pre-order in 2025 and begin deliveries in 2026. The most recent prototype was seen at CES 2024 in early January, and while it did have some concrete specs to tout (91 kWh lithium-ion battery, two 180 kW motors, up to 150 kW DC fast-charging), it wasn’t available for test drives. 

“The car’s speed and range aren’t decided yet or even the basic driving functions, though the car will be made in a Honda factory and benefit from Honda’s expertise,” The Verge reported.

Also up in the air are the groundbreaking technologies Sony Honda Mobility hope to add to the Afeela, from AI-enhanced driving assistance to an AI-based personal assistant. (Sensing a theme here.)

Is a year and a half enough to get all of this tech developed, implemented and ready for production in what Sony Honda Mobility is calling Afeela’s “first mass-production electric vehicle”? Apple’s own runway for its in-development EV was pushed out even later than that — Bloomberg says “[t]he most recent approach discussed internally was delaying a car release until 2028 and reducing self-driving specifications from Level 4 to Level 2+ technology” — and they still scrapped the car. So what hope does Sony have?

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To bolster the chances of hitting their timeline for releasing an EV, Sony Honda Mobility is leveraging strategic partnerships instead of trying to keep everything in-house. At this year’s CES, they announced a collaboration with Microsoft on the “conversational” personal assistant they’re hoping to offer in the vehicles, tapping that company’s Azure OpenAI Service.

Afeela is still a very, very long shot to break into the EV sector in a substantial way, especially as the brand seems to be focused on solving tech-integration issues that Apple couldn’t crack and that Tesla has continually struggled with. But as of right now, the company is heading to market in 2026. The Apple car, meanwhile, is crumpled up in the wastebasket. 

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