Sony and Honda's future EV plans started as reported rumors about a potential joint venture to produce an electric car together by the end of 2025, though they were confirmed by both companies rather quickly, in March 2022. Since then, we've learned that the two may make the joint venture a separate company, and the plan is to offer the first EV in North America. Now, it seems Honda's dealers want in on the upcoming action.

Sony Honda Mobility shared last week that it will begin delivering its first EV in 2026. The first deliveries will be in the US, where, Reuters says, Honda's dealers are excited to dive into the sales of the upcoming electric vehicle, which doesn't yet have an official name. The article also confirms that the joint company will sell the EV online.

As legacy automakers continue to work with their franchised dealership networks to make the best plans for selling EVs, most electric car startups, including Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid, sell their cars directly to consumers. These companies also rely heavily on online sales. "Big Three" automakers, such as Ford, are already working to get new plans and policies in place related to the sale of EVs in the future.

At this point, there are few other concrete details about how Honda and Sony aim to sell and service the future electric vehicles. However, according to Reuters, it's expected that the joint venture will take advantage of Honda's existing retail network, at least in some capacity, especially if dealers have any say in the plans. One Honda dealer's general manager and vice president Brian Benstock – who has reportedly shared his thoughts directly with Honda – explained:

"These issues are certainly a concern. The best path forward is with the dealers."

"We have a role (automakers) can't replicate. There's no way that Honda wants to hurt their existing dealer body."

While some automotive brands may be dealing with dealers that don't want to sell EVs, it does make sense that at least some of Honda's dealers would hope to be involved as the industry transitions. Not being involved could eventually mean not existing if the industry continues to crank out EVs and moves forward with direct sales and online sales models.

Another dealer owner added that he sees the challenge automakers are facing thanks to the transition to EVs. However, he also doesn't want the challenges to lead to the elimination of dealer support. Peter Hennessy of Hennessy Automobile Companies, which is home to a Honda dealer, encourages the joint company to work with Honda's dealers, not on their own.

The report goes so far as to say that some dealers are already suggesting that if Honda tries to sell the future Sony EVs without its dealer network, it could be accused of going against franchise agreements. However, being that it's a joint venture under a new name, Honda may be able to pull it off, though this doesn't mean it wouldn't be frowned upon or even challenged.

Reuters notes that Sony Honda spokesperson Mai Nagadome admitted there are still plenty of loose ends at this point. However, he did say that the company isn't ruling out the use of its dealership network to sell future EVs produced with Sony.

Sony and Honda plan to bring a concept version of the future EV to the upcoming CES technology show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 2023.

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