TOKYO (AFP): Sony is teaming up with automaker Honda to start a new company that will develop and sell electric vehicles, as the Japanese tech and electronics giant leaps into the rapidly growing sector.
Major global carmakers are increasingly prioritising electric and hybrid vehicles as concern about climate change grow.
Sony Group said Friday the two Japanese names hope to establish their firm by the end of this year with sales of their first electric model expected to begin in 2025.
The announcement comes on the heels of Sony’s January unveiling of a new prototype, its Vision-S electric vehicle, and the announcement of a new subsidiary Sony Mobility to explore entering the EV market.
“Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different,” Sony Group president Kenichiro Yoshida said in a statement.
“I believe this alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”
At a joint press conference, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe said discussions on the collaboration had picked up speed when Honda and Sony staff “felt big possibilities, like a chemical reaction” at a joint mobility workshop held last year.
Honda will be responsible for manufacturing the pair’s first vehicle, but both companies will work together on design, tech and sales.
Mio Kato, an analyst at Lightstream Research who publishes on Smartkarma, said Sony would be able to make use of its technology from image sensors to next-gen display as well as AI in the new vehicles.
“(The alliance) helps Sony maintain its asset-light model and is also positive for Honda, but we do feel that it makes Honda look a little lost in the changing world,” he said in a note.
At present, around 10 percent of European car sales are EVs, and the US figure is just two percent.
But demand is growing, and other major automakers including Honda’s Japanese rivals are investing money and resources into electric vehicles.
Earlier this year, the Nissan auto alliance promised to offer 35 new electric models by 2030 as it announced a total investment of $25 billion in the sector.
Toyota, the world’s top-selling carmaker, has also recently hiked its 2030 electric vehicle sales goal by 75 percent in a more ambitious plan for the sector.
And last week, German auto giant Volkswagen said it was drawing up plans to list its luxury brand Porsche as it looks to raise the funds for its move to electric vehicles.
Yoshida emphasised on Friday that the new partnership was “not-exclusive”.
“We want to expand it, because we want to contribute to and lead the evolution of mobility,” he said.