On Friday, we learned that Honda and Sony are teaming up for a strategic alliance. The two companies are creating a new joint venture that will design and sell a range of high-end electric vehicles and mobility services. The first EV is due to go on sale in 2025.
We got our first real glimpse of Sony’s automotive ambitions when the consumer electronics giant used the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off a concept car called the Vision-S. This remarkably polished car was a four-wheel showcase for Sony’s sensor tech and had an interior that made it easy to consume Sony’s digital entertainment content.
Sony worked with traditional automotive suppliers like Bosch, Continental, and Magna Steyr on the concept, and we saw it again the following year via videos of the Vision-S testing in Austria. Magna Steyr is well-known in the auto industry for its ability to contract-manufacture vehicles for automakers, including BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota. Its factory is in Graz, Austria.
The move caused a lot of speculation, and this January, Sony returned to CES with two EVs. Now the sedan was called the Vision-S 01, and it was joined by an SUV called the Vision-S 02. This time, Sony was a bit more explicit, saying that it was planning to create a company called Sony Mobility in 2022 and would explore entry into the EV market.
Now those plans are much clearer, and they don’t appear to involve contract-manufacturing in Austria, at least initially. Sony and Honda have signed a memorandum of understanding to create this joint venture later this year. Honda is bringing the skills of a car company to the table—vehicle body engineering and after-sales support. Sony’s contributions will be the tech showcased in the Vision-S concepts—electronics, sensors, networking, and telecommunications. And the new company won’t just make EVs; it will also “realize a new generation of mobility and services that are closely aligned with users and the environment.”
“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 Kenichiro Yoshida, president and CEO of Sony Group.
“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,” said Honda President and CEO Toshihiro Mibe. “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.”
“Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different,” Mibe said. “Therefore, I believe this alliance, which brings together the strengths of our two companies, offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”
The new company will plan, design, and sell the range of EVs, but it won’t own its own factory. Instead, the first EV will be produced at one of Honda’s existing plants and is set to go on sale in 2025.