Sony's prototype car could be the start of a gross advertising trend

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In a joint venture with Honda, Sony unveiled this prototype car during its press conference at CES 2023, which will hit the road in 2026. The Afeela is a tricked-out electric vehicle that seems to be an upgrade from the Vision-S concept car (opens in new tab) Sony showed off a few years back. 

The Afeela has got everything you’d expect from a prototype car made by Sony and Honda. Sleek design, a load of sensors and safety features, and even a big fancy dashboard with screens to watch movies and play PlayStation 5 games on the go. 

On the car's exterior is the ‘media bar,’ a long horizontal display between the headlights. Yashide Mizuno, Ceo of Sony Honda Mobility, says the purpose of the media bar is so that the car can “express itself by sharing various types of information to people around it.” It can show off custom colors as if it were RGB on a laptop, the EV’s battery level, or even the weather. 

However, it wasn’t until we got to the 34:50 mark of the presentation that Mizuno said that Sony Honda Mobility was working with partners to explore “the possibility of how the media bar can create fun and exciting mobility interactions.” And almost on cue for that line, an ad for the movie Spider-man: No Way Home appeared on the car’s media bar, right on the big screen behind him. I think I have an idea of where this is going. 

I get it, cars are expensive, and selling ads has always been a way to generate some extra revenue. In a world where we are already inundated with a barrage of targeted ads, the notion of every parked car or car at a red light can blast out advertising for the Last of Us TV show or the Blu-ray remaster of Morbius seems a bit Orwellian. 

I already see a dark future where car dealers offer cheaper leases if folks opt-in to let ads run on their cars when they are parked. I mean, people always pay for ad-free versions of streaming services and mobile games, so is an ad-free automobile really out of the question?

Sony Honda Mobility expects pre-orders for the Afeela in early 2025, with the first cars to be delivered in North America by Spring 2026. 

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Jorge Jimenez
Hardware writer, Human Pop-Tart

Jorge is a hardware writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, he's reviewing all sorts of gaming hardware from laptops with the latest mobile GPUs to gaming chairs with built-in back massagers. He's been covering games and tech for nearly ten years and has written for Dualshockers, WCCFtech, and Tom's Guide.