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Tesla Model 3 vs Sony Afeela EV: How Do They Compare?

As a tech enthusiast and consultant focused on electric mobility, I was intrigued when Sony and Honda announced their new joint mobility venture called Sony Honda Mobility (SHM) earlier this year. Their first product under this new brand? An all-electric vehicle dubbed the Sony Afeela, aimed squarely at rivaling the popular Tesla Model 3 in the luxury EV space.

As sleek concepts go, the Afeela prototype resembles the Tesla Model 3 in its teardrop profile and premium aspirations. But with production still several years out, how exactly does this upstart EV stack up against the tried and tested Model 3? Let‘s go in-depth on the key specs and features of both.

Exteriors: Slick and Minimalist

The most striking aspect of the Afeela exterior is its interactive "Media Bar" – a display strip running the width of the vehicle that promises engaging animations and external connectivity. Flanked by razor-thin LED headlamps, it lends the Afeela prototype a sleek, futuristic look. The body shape itself echoes the curves and angles of the Model 3, albeit slightly larger.

By contrast, the Tesla Model 3 exterior stands out for its simplicity. Beyond the iconic smooth front with no grille, the sides and rear are understated. At 184.8 inches long, the Model 3 is the smallest Tesla and more compact than the Afeela.

Key Exterior Differences

  • The Afeela is larger and puts greater emphasis on exterior displays
  • The Model 3 is more understated in its minimalism
  • Afeela promises more possibilities for external connectivity and interactivity

Interiors: Spaceship Chic

Early Afeela interiors reflect the high-tech, clutter-free aesthetic that defines luxury EVs. The predominant theme is white, heightened by ambient lighting and a full-length glass roof. Like the Honda e, screens dominate the dashboard – twin displays for driver and front passenger, plus camera screens standing in for wing mirrors.

The spartan layout is familiar, but the yoke-style steering wheel gives me pause. As an EV industry analyst, I‘ve argued this form-over-function approach compromises maneuverability without significant benefits. Industry voices agree a round wheel simply works better. Tesla‘s own yoke has drawn mixed reviews. For an untested startup like SHM, this seems an unnecessary point of controversy.

As a 5-year strong seller, the Tesla Model 3 interior exudes refinement over flair. The minimalist vibe centers around a gleaming 15-inch touchscreen control panel. Though form prevails over function, lacking Android/Apple integration disappoints.

Feature Afeela Tesla Model 3
Dashboard displays Pillar-to-pillar quad display with camera mirrors Single 15" horizontal touchscreen
Steering wheel Yoke Round (Yoke optional)
Seating capacity TBC 5 seats
Cargo capacity TBC 15 cubic ft

Key Interior Differences

  • Afeela prioritizes visual impact with its tech-centric dashes and unconventional shapes
  • Model 3 focuses more on practical simplicity rather than spectacle
  • Both embrace the minimalist theme common across luxury EVs

Battery Tech: The Heart of Any EV

As every electrical engineer knows, battery technology defines key performance parameters for EVs from driving range to longevity. While Afeela battery specifics remain under wraps and likely still under development, let‘s examine what Tesla uses.

The entry level Tesla Model 3 is powered by lithium-ion cells arranged into a 50 kWh battery pack. The long-range AWD variants use higher density 82 kWh packs containing the more advanced 2170 form factor Panasonic cells with nickel-rich NCA chemistry. These enable the 300+ mile EPA test cycle range consumers have come to expect in today‘s long-range EVs.

Sophisticated cooling, power distribution and battery management systems are just as essential to maximize performance. Over its production run, Tesla has consistently updated these systems through judicious hardware upgrades and software refinements beamed over-the-air. As a result, today‘s Model 3 battery packs promise 1200 to 1500 full charge cycles before reaching end-of-life – no mean feat for cells undergoing repeated high-current DC fast charging.

Specification Tesla Model 3 Standard Range+ Tesla Model 3 Long Range
Battery Capacity 50 kWh 82 kWh
Range (EPA) 250 miles 358 miles
Charge Cycles 1200-1500 cycles 1200-1500 cycles
Cell Chemistry NCA NCA (nickel-rich)
Cell Format 1865 2170

For the Afeela, we await details butexpect Bluetooth battery management systems and 90+ kWh packs, considering the vehicle size and target range. Thermal control innovations pioneered by Tesla including coolant preconditioning and the use of heat pumps for heating the cabin and battery will likely feature too.

Key Battery and Powertrain Differences

  • Tesla battery specs are well-known from years of refinement
  • Afeela battery and powertrain tech remains unannounced
  • Both will offer latest Li-ion cells but Tesla has production experience

Charging Considerations

For EVs, driving range would be moot without adequate charging provision. Here Tesla holds an undisputed edge over the Afeela. Through its vast and growing network of Supercharger stations providing 200kW+ DC fast charging power outputs, Tesla removes range anxiety for intra-city and inter-city travel.

SHM is unlikely to commit the billions needed to replicate such infrastructure in the short term. More feasible would be an embrace of multi-standard charging networks like Europe‘s IONITY or Electrify America in the U.S. However, the maximum 150kW charging power of such networks remains a bottleneck compared to Tesla-only Superchargers.

Until mainstream high-power 800V electrical architectures begin appearing in EVs besides Porsche‘s Taycan, Tesla battery packs enjoy the fastest real-world charging times globally. Though emerging cell-to-pack designs may soon enable sub-10 minute fills for next-gen EVs.

Charging Factoid Tesla Supercharger V3 IONITY/Electrify America
Max Power Output 250 kW 350 kW
Cars Supported Tesla Only Universal CCS/CHAdeMO
Charging Standard J1772, IEC 62196 J1772, CCS/CHAdeMO
Locations Globally 40,000+ 2,000+

Key Charging Differences

  • Tesla boasts the world‘s largest fast charging infrastructure catering specifically to their cars
  • Afeela will rely on public multi-standard networks common to all EVs
  • Tesla battery packs enjoy fastest real-world charge rates globally for now

Self-Driving Tech: Afeela‘s Ambition

Autonomous driving capability represents the cutting edge of EV innovation. SHM is accordingly promising a lot here, with Level 3 minimum self-driving targeted for the Afeela. The integration challenges shouldn‘t be underestimated however. Dozens of optical cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radars must feed reliably into compute systems powerful enough to respond in real-time based on complex neural networks and vast data sets.

Autonomous Specs Sony Afeela Tesla Model 3
Target Autonomy Level Level 3+ Currently Level 2
Sensors Used 45+ cameras, radars, ultrasonics 8 exterior cameras, 12 ultrasonics, forward radar
Compute Hardware TBC – likely Nvidia Orin SoC Custom AMD Ryzen APU + discrete GPU
Neural Networks TBC Tesla Vision branched from OpenCV

In contrast, Tesla‘s lauded Autopilot relies on a vision-centric approach, eschewing expensive lidars used by rivals. Yet despite bold claims of full self-driving by year-end, Tesla‘s system still warrants vigilant driver oversight as per regulators. Gradual refinements continue via over-the-air software updates however.

Still, Tesla’s 6 billion miles of telemetry data gathered from its global connected fleet gives it a leg up. For SHM to surpass today‘s industry leaders in autonomous capability seems a tall order, notwithstanding its Sony sensors and Qualcomm Snapdragon digital chassis.

Key Autonomous Driving Differences

  • Afeela targets more advanced self-driving but faces big integration challenges
  • Tesla Autopilot has a head start refining vision-based autonomy using real-world data

EV Market Outlook: Growing Sales Globally

While Tesla currently leads global EV sales by volume, intensifying competition comes from legacy automakers like VW, GM and Hyundai-Kia launching newer models. Still, industry analysts project a 26% CAGR for pure electric cars through 2030 led by markets like China and Europe. Higher range capacities, lower battery costs and wider model choices are growth catalysts.

Metric 2021 2025E 2030E 2035E
Global EV Sales 6.6 million 16.8 million 34.7 million 60.9 million
EV Share of Total Car Sales ~9% ~20% ~40% ~70%
Top EV Markets by Volume China, Europe, U.S. China, Europe, U.S. China, Europe, U.S. China, Europe, U.S.

Source: BloombergNEF Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022

The self-driving EV niche targeted by Afeela may see slower adoption curves. A McKinsey survey reveals only 23% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay extra for Level 3+ automated driving capability in the next 3 years. Higher upfront sticker prices could be a dampener.

The Outlook for Sony-Honda Mobility

As new participants like SHM, Lucid, NIO and others enter a domain long dominated by Tesla, viable differentiation in hardware or software capabilities seems essential given the lead times involved.

Leveraging core competencies like Sony’s sensing suite and media content ecosystems makes sense. But absent unique EV engineering or manufacturing strengths, carving a niche from Tesla’s mindshare could prove an uphill battle.

That said, as EV growth trends indicate, no single player is likely to control a majority market share longer-term. Agile mobility disruptors expanding customer choice will emerge as winners. On that premise, SHM‘s Afeela deserves a shot to prove itself once production commences.