Sony and Honda have officially signed a joint venture agreement to establish a company to build electric cars together. The new company will be called “Sony Honda Mobility Inc.”, notably giving Sony the biggest revenue over the established automaker.
The company will also focus on “mobility services,” building on Sony’s January announcement of the formation of “Sony Mobility, Inc.”
Sony Honda Mobility Inc. will be formed this year and plans to start sales of its first EV and “service delivery for mobility” in 2025.
Honda’s press release states:
The new company will aim to bring together Honda’s cutting-edge environmental and safety technologies, mobility development capabilities, vehicle body manufacturing technology and aftermarket service management expertise, with Sony’s experience in development and application. of imaging, sensors, telecommunications, networking and entertainment technologies, to realize a new generation of mobility and mobility services that are closely aligned with users and the environment and continue to evolve into the future.
Essentially, Honda will bring its car-building expertise and Sony will bring its software and technology expertise.
We still don’t know any more details about what car Honda and Sony will work on together, or what platform it will be built on. We don’t even know what the brand will look like – will it be a “Sony Honda” or something more like “Honda, developed by Sony”?
By some recent history, Sony has been making its EV ambitions increasingly clear in recent years, showing off its VISION-S EV concept at the last three CES conferences.
In each of Sony’s presentations of its concept vehicle, the company has focused on its entertainment and software expertise to suggest that they would be able to provide better technology services (including autonomous driving) than traditional automakers. At first, its concept felt more like a vehicle to showcase this software and entertainment experience, and was not intended to be a real effort to build an EV.
At the last show, it looked like they might actually build the sedan – and an SUV cousin – as they stated that they were “exploring a commercial launch” of the vehicle and formed a new company, Sony Mobility, Inc., to focus on their redevelopment efforts. mobility and EV.
But in February, Sony’s CFO stated, “We’re not going to start making batteries or vehicles ourselves” and that the company prefers to focus on finding partnerships.
Soon after, Sony and Honda signed a memorandum of understanding to signal their intention to work together.
Honda has been slow to develop electric vehicles, along with most other Japanese automakers. While they seem to finally be making some moves under their new CEO and former head of R&D Toshihiro Mibe, they are still far behind.
They announced that all new models will be electric by 2030…but only in China. In the US, Honda is still wavering, stating that EV demand is still not high enough – even though each new EV model is currently constrained by supply, not demand. Its first mass-market EV, the Prologue EV, won’t arrive in the US until 2024 and will feature GM’s Ultium platform rather than a platform developed in-house by Honda.
Our view of this change is the same as it was a few months ago when the memorandum of understanding was signed.
I was looking forward to seeing Sony come up with the VISION-S, and the repeated showings made it look like it could actually happen. But as we originally thought at the first unveiling of this vehicle, it looks like they’re going to focus on technology partnerships rather than bringing the VISION-S to the road.
As for the partnership here, we hope it can help get Honda going. Since Honda is dragging its feet, having a partner to drag them along can help.
But Sony is another Japanese company, and Japanese companies are known for their conservative business practices. While Sony is a technology company and is moving faster than many Japanese companies, there is still a sense of traditionalism in the Japanese industry that seems to hold them back from embracing new ideas in the EV space. A recent report warned that this shutdown of electric vehicles could have dire consequences for the Japanese economy.
But this Sony Honda Mobility joint venture signals the intention to leverage the strengths of two of Japan’s biggest companies (Honda #2, Sony #11), in the hopes they can catch up to the rest of the world in EVs. We’d like to see results before 2025, which is a long way off, but at least it’s something.
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