Two Japanese titans are teaming up to develop and sell electric cars.
“It’s like a chemical reaction, combining Honda and Sony.” Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe made that comment Friday, as his company announced a new tie-up with electronics giant Sony Corp. to build new EV models. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding, which will ultimately establish a “New Company” (this company doesn’t have an actual name yet) later this year.
Honda, for its part, will utilize its “mobility development capabilities, vehicle body manufacturing technology, and after-sales service management experience,” according to the official statement. The joint venture will leverage Honda’s production capacity, and it will build these new electric models in its factories, in addition to having a hand in the design process. Sony will bring its “expertise in the development and application of imaging, sensing, telecommunication, network, and entertainment technologies.”
While both parties have yet to fully define the arrangement, executives were optimistic that Honda is a solid fit for Sony’s EV efforts, for which it formed Sony Mobility Inc this year and expressed hopes of finding a partner to work toward its ambitious goals.
Forming partnerships outside the automotive sector
Neither company detailed any technical information, and we may not hear anything for awhile yet. Provided the New Company can pass regulatory scrutiny, the joint venture aims to actually put an EV on sale by 2025. Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida did say that mobility technology plays a critical role in the next automotive era, likening it to the advent of smartphones over the past decade. “Going forward, mobility will become increasingly similar to the mobile sector, from the perspective of both technology and the business model,” he said during a Friday news conference.
It’s unclear at this point whether the joint venture will take on Sony’s earlier concepts — the Vision-S 01 sedan and the Vision-S 02 SUV — more or less as they are now. Sony developed those concepts in collaboration with Magna Steyr (who actually built them), as well as Almotive, Bosch and Valeo. The SUV in particular would be a good candidate to continue developing for full-scale production, and we’re curious whether the development work on display from Sony will influence Honda’s own EVs in the coming years.
As ever, we will have to wait and see. Major details can (and likely will) change between now and the targeted 2025 market launch. Honda also has a joint venture going with General Motors, that is also set to bring EVs to the market sooner, in 2024.