Sony and Honda have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop electric vehicles, with the first car becoming available commercially in 2025, reports Nikkei Asia.
Sony has been making their EV ambitions more and more clear over the last few years, showing their VISION-S concept EV at the last three CES conferences.
In each of Sony’s presentations of their concept vehicle, the company has focused on their entertainment and software expertise to suggest that they would be able to provide better technology services (including autonomous driving) than traditional automakers. At first, their concept seemed like more of a vehicle to show off this software and entertainment expertise, and not intended to be a real effort to build an EV.
At the last show it sounded like they might actually build the sedan – and an SUV cousin – as they stated they were “exploring a commercial launch” of the vehicle, and had formed a new company, Sony Mobility, Inc., to focus on their mobility and EV efforts.
But in February, Sony’s CFO stated, “We will not start making batteries or vehicles ourselves” and that the company would rather focus on finding partnerships.
Now today, Sony has unveiled the first major one of those partnerships, with its countrymen at Honda. According to Nikkei Asia’s report, Honda will build the cars and Sony will provide “entertainment, network and other mobility services.”
We don’t know any more details about the car Honda and Sony will work on together, or which platform it will be built on.
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 R&D head Toshihiro Mibe, they are still a good ways behind.
They’ve announced that all new models will be electric by 2030… but only in China. In the US, Honda is still waffling, stating that EV demand still isn’t high enough – even though it doubled in 2021 despite supply chain challenges. Their first mass-market EV, the Prologue EV, won’t come to the US until 2024, and will rely on GM’s Ultium platform rather than a platform developed in-house by Honda.
I was looking forward to seeing Sony jump in with the VISION-S, and repeated showings made it seem like it might actually happen. But, as we originally thought at the first unveiling of that vehicle, it looks like they’re only going to focus on technology partnerships after all. Oh well.
As for the partnership here, we hope it can help kick Honda into gear. Since Honda has been dragging their feet, having a partner to drag them along might help.
But Sony is another Japanese company, and Japanese companies are known for their conservatism (in a business sense). While Sony is a technology company and is faster moving than many Japanese firms, there is still a sense of traditionalism across Japanese industry that seems to have held them back from adopting new ideas in the EV space.
That said, Sony’s forming of “Sony Mobility, Inc.” signals an intention to push the industry forward, so maybe that can influence Honda in a positive way. We’d like to see the results before 2025, which is quite a ways away, but at least it’s something.
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