Sony and Honda said they would form a joint venture to produce electric vehicles in a deal bringing together two of Japan’s most storied industrial names to compete against Tesla, emerging Chinese players and traditional carmakers.
The announcement of the planned tie-up comes less than two months after Sony said it was launching a new company to “explore entry” into the EV market and unveiled a prototype vehicle.
In a joint statement made on Friday afternoon in Tokyo, Honda and Sony said they were exploring a strategic alliance to create “a new era of mobility and mobility services”. The new company is expected to be established later this year with sales of the first electric vehicle due to start in 2025.
Honda will take responsibility for manufacturing the first EV model at its plant, while Sony said it would develop the mobility service platform for the new company.
“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 chief executive Toshihiro Mibe.
Mibe added that while the firms “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 opportunities for the future of mobility,” he said.
Sanshiro Fukao, a senior fellow at the Itochu Research Institute, said Honda was the logical choice for such a partnership. In April last year, the company announced that it was completely phasing-out gasoline cars to focus on EVs.
Sony is building a new semiconductor plant in Japan together with the world’s largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), and the Japanese car parts giant Denso, with the aim of producing chips by 2024.
“These chips could well go into the Sony-Honda cars, and there is already a lot of speculation on how these chips would be used,” Fukao said.