Two industry heavyweights, one a carmaker and the other a tech company have collaborated to create a new company to produce electric vehicles. Honda and Sony announced earlier this month that they formed Sony Honda Mobility Inc. with plans to start EV sales and mobility services from 2025.
In a joint statement, company executives stated that while details of the partnership were still under negotiation, the new company would be created inside of a year. Each company will invest ¥5 billion ($37 million) in the venture. Yasuhide Mizuno, a senior Honda executive, will serve as chairman and CEO, while Izumi Kawanishi, an executive vice president at Sony, will take the position of president and chief operating officer.
According to a spokesperson, a name for the new joint venture has not been decided yet, but Hony and Sonda are obvious possibilities. Honda will be responsible for manufacturing the vehicles using its present facilities while Sony will be charged with creating the software and entertainment content for the mobility service.
As seen with the Apple car, companies from outside of the auto industry, like Sony, are expected to enter the business.
In 2020, Honda launched its first-ever battery EV into European and Japanese markets, called simply the “Honda e.” Like rival Toyota, the maker of the popular CR-V and Civic, has been slower to shift to EVs than most European and U.S. carmakers and is under pressure from investors to produce carbon-free vehicles. Honda may have only just entered the EV market in earnest, but it has been developing electric motors via its hybrid program which started in 1999 with the launch of the Insight in the U.S.
Last year, Honda announced that it was committed to selling nothing but battery-electric and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles by 2040. Honda has also dabbled in fuel-cell cars like the Clarity from 2015 but recently ceased production due to low sales and interest from the public. Honda says it will rethink its hydrogen strategy going forward.
Honda, meanwhile, will launch two EV models by 2024 in the U.S., part of a partnership with GM. These two pure electric vehicles, however, have no relation to the Honda-Sony collaboration.
Confirming its interest and participation in electric vehicle technology and production, Sony for its part, has also developed and built the brand’s first two EV concepts, the Vision-S 01 sedan in 2020 and the Vision-S 02 Prototype last year.
Sony Chairman and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida commented that “We shared the view that it is better to make the joint venture independent, in the long term, rather than operating it under Sony or Honda.”
“We want to contribute to the evolution of mobility by providing the basis with network functions,” Yoshida said, citing the successful business model of PlayStation game console as an example. The company’s entertainment business is growing significantly, overtaking its traditional electronics business. Games and network services, movies, and music together accounted for some 51% of Sony’s total sales last fiscal year, clearing 50% for the first time. The combination of Honda’s auto-making prowess and Sony’s tech and gaming expertise hint at a strong performance from the new joint venture.