Japanese electronic and entertainment giant Sony are to form a joint venture with car maker Honda, in order to develop electric vehicles (EVs).
On Friday the two firms issued a joint statement, saying they “have signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines their intent to establish a joint venture through which they plan to engage in the joint development and sales of high value-added battery electric vehicles (EVs) and commercialise them in conjunction with providing mobility services.”
The team up of Sony and Honda may raise eyebrows in some quarters, considering the vastly different sectors the two firms operate in. But there is little doubt that Sony would combine its wealth of expertise with user interfaces, sensors etc, with Honda’s car making chops, in the new EV joint venture.
Both firms said they will proceed with negotiations, with the new venture being formed sometime this year, subject to the usual regulatory approvals.
“This alliance aims to bring together Honda’s mobility development capabilities, vehicle body manufacturing technology and after-sales service management experience cultivated over many years, with Sony’s expertise in the development and application of imaging, sensing, telecommunication, network, and entertainment technologies,” said the two firms in their statement.
They said sales of the first EV model from the new company are expected to start in 2025.
The new company is expected to plan, design, develop, and sell the EVs, but not own and operate manufacturing facilities, so Honda is expected to be responsible for manufacturing the first EV model at its vehicle manufacturing plant.
It is expected that a mobility service platform will be developed by Sony and made available for the new company.
“Sony’s Purpose is to `fill the world with emotion through the power of creativity and technology,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, CEO of Sony.
“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,” said Yoshida.
“The New Company will aim to stand at the forefront of innovation, evolution, and expansion of mobility around the world, by taking a broad and ambitious approach to creating value that exceeds the expectations and imagination of customers,” added Toshihiro Mibe, CEO of Honda Motor.
“We will do so by leveraging Honda’s cutting-edge technology and know-how in relation to the environment and safety, while aligning the technological assets of both companies,” said Mibe.
“Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different,” Mibe concluded. “Therefore, I believe this alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”
This move was on the cards, it should be remembered.
In January this year at the CES 2022 show, Sony said it was planning to launch a company in the spring to examine a potential entry into the electric vehicle (EV) market.
Sony at the time was said to be seeking to capitalise on its expertise in sensors and entertainment, and the role these technologies could play in future transportation vehicles.
Sony chairman and president Kenichiro Yoshida at the time that the new company would be called Sony Mobility Inc, to assist as the Japanese tech giant as it is “exploring a commercial launch” of electric vehicles.
Honda meanwhile for its part is in the process of transitioning to become an electric car company.
The Japanese car maker said it would phase out petrol-powered vehicles by 2040.
Honda currently has a joint venture with General Motors to develop new electric vehicles.
The Sony, Honda tie up for EVs comes after Chinese tech firms Baidu and Xiaomi both formed electric vehicle companies.
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