Honda and Sony have announced plans to set up a new electric vehicle joint venture. The two Japanese giants said they will form a strategic alliance to jointly develop "high value-added" battery electric vehicles and sell them in conjunction with mobility services.
Expected to start sales in 2025, the new company will benefit from Honda's expertise in body manufacturing and after-sales service, and Sony's know-how in imaging, sensing, telecommunications, networking and entertainment technologies.
While the new joint venture will plan, design, develop and sell EVs, it will not own or operate an assembly plant. Honda will be responsible for manufacturing the first electric vehicle model, while Sony will provide a mobility service platform to the joint venture.
"Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different. Therefore, I believe this alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility."
Toshihiro Mibe, Honda Motor Company CEO
The as-yet-unnamed company will be established later this year following negotiations on the joint development agreement and a joint venture agreement, subject to execution of the definitive agreements and relevant regulatory approvals.
Gallery: Sony Vision-S 02 SUV Concept
"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."
Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony Group Corporation CEO
Sony already created a company called Sony Mobility in January to manage its foray into cars. The tech giant unveiled its second all-electric concept vehicle in January at CES 2022, the Vision-S 02 SUV. It is unclear whether the joint venture with Honda will build production versions of Sony's Vision-S 02 and Vision-S 01 prototypes.
The business model chosen by Sony is to leverage its expertise in digital and software technology while leaving the manufacturing of the car to an external partner. That’s a similar approach to the one adopted by other tech companies, including Apple.
As for Honda, it is trying to consolidate its position in the auto industry by shifting to pure electric drivetrains by 2040. A key part of the transformation is to form new partnerships, including with technology companies outside the auto sector.
Honda is planning to launch its own dedicated electric vehicle platform, called e:Architecture, and solid-state batteries in the second half of the 2020s. The carmaker is also developing autonomous vehicles, in part with GM’s Cruise, under a mobility-as-a-service enterprise.