After much hemming and hawing, Sony has confirmed it will enter the car industry, but it won’t be doing so alone.
Overnight, Sony and Honda announced they are looking to set up a new joint venture company this year, although all the details and contracts have yet to be worked out.
Should all go according to plan, the as-yet unnamed firm is aiming to have its first EV on sale in 2025.
According to the companies, the new firm will combine “Honda’s mobility development capabilities, vehicle body manufacturing technology and after-sales service management experience” and “Sony’s expertise in the development and application of imaging, sensing, telecommunication, network, and entertainment technologies”.
The company’s “mobile service platform” will be engineered by Sony.
Although the Sony/Honda joint venture will be investing heavily in design and developing EVs and “mobility services”, it won’t be sinking money into manufacturing.
Instead it will contract out that task to Honda, at least for its first model.
A Honda spokesperson told Automotive News the new company will sell cars in Japan, the US and Europe. The company declined to provide a sales target.
“Through this alliance with Honda, which has accumulated extensive global experience and achievements in the automobile industry over many years and continues to make revolutionary advancements in this field, we intend to build on our vision to ‘make the mobility space an emotional one,’ and contribute to the evolution of mobility centered around safety, entertainment and adaptability,” Kenichiro Yoshida, CEO of the Sony Group, said in a prepared statement.
For his part, Toshihiro Mibe, Honda’s CEO, said: “Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different.
“Therefore, I believe this alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”
While Sony has been supplying components — most notably sound systems — to the auto industry for a long time, it only began publicly exploring the idea of putting its name on a car when it unveiled the Vision-S prototype at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.
At the beginning of 2022 the Japanese conglomerate set up a new a Mobility division to explore its next steps in the automotive world. The company produced a follow up vehicle, the Vision-S 02, for this year’s CES.
Both vehicles have remarkably polished, almost production-ready, interiors and exteriors. It’s unknown how similar Sony’s first production EVs will be to the two Vision-S concept cars, as neither company gave details about its first car.
Under the leadership of Toshihiro Mibe, Honda’s CEO since April 2021, Japan’s second-largest automaker has committed to ending the use of internal combustion engines in its cars by 2040. He has also said the company is on the look out for new partnerships.
Over recent years, Honda has deepened its relationship with GM. What started as a partnership centred around fuel cell research, will soon see Honda use GM’s Ultium EV architecture for a pair of Honda and Acura models aimed at the US.
Although these two cars will be designed by Honda, they will be built by GM.
Honda is also developing its own EV architecture, dubbed e:N. Production vehicles based on this platform could emerge by the middle of the decade, and could resemble the three concepts it unveiled in 2021.