In 2022, Sony and Honda announced a joint venture named Sony Honda Mobility, SHM. The New company aims to build electric cars that would shift the focus of luxury cars from power and performance to a pleasant motoring experience. During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early this year, SHM announced its first EV brand, Sony Afeela, and shared a prototype. Besides its funnily-sounding moniker, what wasn’t easy to miss was the resemblance with Tesla Model 3, the car it aims to rival. The big question is, how does the Afeela stack up against Tesla 3? Let’s deep dive and see how these EVs compare.
Tesla Model 3 vs. Sony Afeela: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Tesla Model 3
|Luxury sedan EV
|Luxury sedan EV
|Buy to own
|Degree of minimalism
|Both RWD and AWD options
|Autonomous driving level
Tesla Model 3 vs. Sony Afeela: What’s the Difference?
Like the Tesla Model 3, Afeela is a luxury electric sedan with a teardrop shape, though slightly larger. The focus feature on its exterior is the ‘Media Bar,’ an external display showing abstract animations and even interacting with other road users. It is flanked with thin LED headlights that accentuate its presence. While it currently serves only aesthetic purposes, SHM promises to increase the functionality of the Media Bar through partnerships with creators and other partners.
On the inside, Afeela’s design gives the impression of being a mobility computer than a car. The marketing documents make the difference very slim. Afeela hoped to develop a new standard in the mobility sector that shifts focus from power and performance to software.
Tesla Model 3 takes the conventional car models but with a simplistic rear end and an undramatic side profile. On the front end, it has a pair of fog lights, a slim intake, and a grille-less bumper, which SHM has borrowed for the Afeela. Model 3 is also the smallest Tesla in the market and consequently smaller than the Afeela, which is almost the same size as the Tesla Model S.
SHM did not reveal much about the key features of Afeela. Instead, the CES marketing team focused on explaining that the future cars will continue humanity’s digital lives and how Afeela is aiding this transition. However, one could glean from the availed information features such as a full-width LED taillight, a panoramic roof, and 21-inch wheels.
However, nothing was mentioned about the trim levels or feature package. SHM will probably figure these out during production, which is, according to the company, three years away, if things go as planned.
As an established brand, Tesla Model 3’s features are well documented and vastly reviewed. First, it is available in three trim levels; Base, Long Range, and Performance. The standard features are 18-inch wheels, a panoramic glass roof, keyless entry and start, wireless charging for two phones, and subscription-based gaming, video, and audio streaming services.
At an additional cost, customers can get Tesla’s autopilot package and more features to improve the motoring experience in the American brand. There are also more luxurious features as you go up the trims.
SHM gives Afeela the minimalistic interior design that has become the norm in EVs. However, Afeela still does not beat Tesla’s Model 3 in this. While SHM did not reveal much about Afeela’s upholstery, it will likely feature premium synthetic leather like the one found in its luxury sedan alternatives. In the meantime, all that we know is the prototype’s interior features an all-white theme accentuated by a panoramic glass roof.
The car has no physical controls but four screens arranged in a pillar-to-pillar format, similar to the Honda EV hatchback, the Honda e. There is the driver’s display and the main display, stretching from the center toward the front passenger’s seat. The outer two screens are camera views for the digital side mirrors. However, the US market should expect to do without these two as the current legislation does not allow such.
One big misgiving on the Afeela’s interior is the yoke-type steering wheel, also found in Tesla models. This is an ill-advised design, copy-pasting by an automaker that should know better. As car fanatics have consistently insisted, the wheel is round for a reason and needs no reinvention.
On the other hand, Tesla Model 3 minimalistic interior is modern even though it might not be as inspiring as other less frugal alternatives. Its main highlight is the 15-inch infotainment and control display. The screen controls almost everything in the car and acts as the driver’s display.
Limiting the car’s control to a touchscreen didn’t sit well with many, and still doesn’t, but it is now an accepted feature in Tesla cars. However, not having a separate display for the driver is something Tesla has had to reconsider in its later models and one SHM picked on in Afeela’s design.
SHM aims at bringing into the Afeela all the basic infotainment features of a luxury car, such as web browsing, Netflix, Spotify, and more. However, information is scanty on how SHM will go about this and whether it will have a smartphone mirroring feature. Tesla does not have this capability, making it one of the pain points of driving a car by an American automaker.
During the CES, the company pointed out that Afeela’s infotainment system has three control options; voice, touch, and knob, like the one in BMW’s iDrive system. It also has a dual-screen system for occupants in the back seat.
Many expected the Afeela to come with PlayStation packed into the infotainment bundle like Sony’s Vision-S concept car, but it doesn’t. Instead, SHM has promised a partnership with Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite games, to develop in-car games and to integrate virtual and real worlds seamlessly. It sounds exciting, but we are yet to see what it means.
Tesla Model 3 comes with a 15-inch infotainment system with an intuitive operating system. Because the same touchscreen controls the vehicle systems, some icons are too small. However, you can use voice commands, which may take time getting-used-to but are pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.
The infotainment system of the Model 3 includes useful features such as satnav, apps like Spotify and Netflix, and steering-wheel-controlled driving games. As with all Tesla models, it does not have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay for smartphone mirroring.
SHM is yet to reveal Afeela’s powertrain specifications. However, the company said this vehicle would feature an all-wheel drive, implying the first model will have a dual-motor drivetrain. Word on the expected mileage or battery pack size isn’t out yet.
Tesla Model 3’s base model has a single motor drivetrain and a rear-wheel-drive, while Long Range and Performance models are 4WDs. So, you get two electric motors each. The entry Tesla Model 3 manages between 230-270 miles on a full charge, while the Long Range promises up to 305 miles in the real world.
Performance and Driving
As the Afeela was just a prototype, there is no information on its performance on the road. In fact, the focus seems to be more on its smartphone-like capabilities rather than its performance. Nonetheless, enthusiasts hope it will be just as quick and smooth to ride as the models it seeks to rival.
Tesla Model 3 is quick, with the entry model managing 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds. Long Range and Performance trims are faster, with the latter hitting the 60mph mark from rest in a blistering 3.1 seconds.
SHM promised its EV would deliver 2+ autonomy, which is the ability for the car to self-drive in stop-and-go traffic and busy cities safely. It will have 45 sensors and cameras fitted inside and outside the vehicle to achieve this. These will integrate with the rest of the vehicle using Snapdragon Digital Chassis.
Snapdragon is an electronic backbone designed by Qualcomm. It handles in-car entertainment, telematics, and vehicular communications. It also supports several Operating Systems giving the impression that Afeela’s electronic system will be compatible with several aftermarket technologies.
Tesla Model 3, like all the other cars that claim autonomous driving, only has level 2 autonomy systems. Besides, these only come as additional packages or as standard in the higher trims. Enhanced Autopilot package allows navigation, such as steering in and out of parking spaces without the driver’s intervention.
For more autonomy, there is the Full Self-Driving Capability package. However, the name can be misleading as it requires a driver’s hands to remain on the steering wheel even when self-steering. It is still prone to errors but might improve with continuous over-the-air updates.
SHM does not have a charging network, which is understandable given its startup status. Even then, the company has not hinted at building its charging network, similar to what Tesla does for its cars.
Tesla Model 3, on the other hand, enjoys an extensive network of Tesla charging points. The infotainment system displays all the nearest charging points, making it easy to find the best place to charge the EV. Also, it can be charged at other points.
Tesla Model 3 vs. Sony Afeela: Must-Know Facts
- The Afeela will be manufactured in Honda’s facility in Ohio.
- The Afeela will primarily be sold online, with no dealerships, just like the Tesla model 3.
- Like the Tesla Model 3, the Afeela model will be available on lease terms.
- Pre-production orders for the Afeela will begin in early 2025, and the first launch will be in 2026.
- Besides Honda and Sony, Epic Games and Qualcomm are the other partners in the Afeela production.
- Afeela’s concept is based on a value philosophy of 3As; Autonomy, Augmentation, and Affinity.
- Tesla Model 3 is the fastest-selling EV model at the time of writing.
Tesla Model 3 vs. Sony Afeela: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
The decision to buy the Tesla or wait for the Afeela depends on different factors, the key being whether you are willing to wait. If you answer in the affirmative, what will you drive around during the waiting period? The best option, in this case, would be to buy the Tesla 3 and dispose of it when the Afeela comes out.
Remember, Afeela is not the first vehicle proposed by Sony. In 2020, the Vision-S model never saw the light of day, possibly because the tech firm did not have an automaker as a manufacturing partner. Nonetheless, three years is a long time to wait for a car.
When making a major financial decision like buying a car, it is first important to consider a car already in the market or production. Think about the charging network, lease or buy options, and price too. The choice is easy if you want a car with a dedicated charging network that you can call your own. However, pricing is tricky as the Afeela won’t be available for sale until 2025. Because of its features, Afeela might cost the same as the Tesla Model S.
Of the two, Tesla Model 3 is a far better option than the Afeela concept car at this point.
Recent Technology Advancements for the Tesla Model 3 and the Sony Afeela
Technology is constantly advancing for electric vehicles, and both Tesla and Sony have benefited from this. Here are some of the technological advancements made since February 2023:
Tesla Model 3
- There have been several software updates, including new features such as a more responsive autopilot system and improved range.
- The battery pack has received an upgrade that now offers up to 358 miles of range.
- This vehicle has a range of up to 300 miles and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
- Advanced safety features have been introduced, such as a pedestrian detection system and a 360-degree camera system.
Possible Future Technology Advancements for the Tesla Model 3 and the Sony Afeela
The technological advancements of electric vehicles are exciting to watch. Even though we don’t know exactly what’s coming in the future, here are some possible improvements we may see in the next six to 18 months:
Tesla Model 3
- Battery technology improvements could increase the range to over 400 miles on a single charge.
- Better driver-assistance features that could make the vehicle even safer and more autonomous.
- New software features that could further improve performance and efficiency.
- Battery improvements that could possibly increase the range up to 400 miles.
- Enhancements to acceleration could mean zero to 60 in under five seconds.
- Advanced safety features, such as a blind-spot monitoring system and a lane-keeping assist system.
- Updated software features that could improve the infotainment system and connectivity.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Grzegorz Czapski/Shutterstock.com.