Sony And Honda Is The EV Collab We Never Saw Coming

Sony and Honda have revealed an unexpected collaboration, with a new alliance to develop electric cars. The new company – as yet unnamed – aims to begin sales of its first EV in 2025, tapping the strengths of each partner for a new range of all-electric vehicles that will be built on Honda production lines.

"The Alliance aims to bring together Sony's expertise in the development and application of imaging, sensing, telecommunication, network, and entertainment technologies," the two companies said in a statement today, "with Honda's mobility development capabilities, vehicle body manufacturing technology and after-sales service management experience cultivated over many years, to realize a new generation of mobility and mobility services that are closely aligned with users and the environment, and continue to evolve going forward."

The new company is expected to be established sometime in 2022, though the key details are still to be hammered out. It will plan, design, develop, and be responsible for sales of the EVs, but it won't have its own production facilities. Instead, Honda will be manufacturing the new vehicles at an as-yet-specified plant.

Sony, in the meantime, will be developing "a mobility service platform" for the joint venture. Exactly what that will consist of is unclear at this stage, though it's likely to encompass not only the software which runs on the EVs' own infotainment systems, but a broader portfolio of entertainment and services that can be accessed by owners and passengers.

Electrification is forcing an auto industry rethink

It's a considerable step for both companies, and reflects the way that the shift to electrification – along with connected cars and an increasing expectation among owners that their vehicles will be as high-tech as their smartphones – has forced some non-traditional thinking in the auto industry. Honda, though a mainstay of that world for decades, has struggled to shift into pure-electric. Although it has several hybrids on sale in the North American market, it discontinued its only BEV there several years ago.

The Honda e all-electric hatchback, meanwhile, is available in Europe, though falls short of the range of many of its rivals. Honda has previously announced a collaboration with General Motors, and will use GM's Ultium platform for battery-electric cars to build at least two new SUVs. The first of those, the 2024 Honda Prologue, is expected to go on sale in 2024, with a subsequent model under the Acura brand to follow.

Sony Mobility is a tech wildcard

Meanwhile, Honda has also been working on its own e-Architecture platform for EVs. That, though, isn't expected to be ready for new models until the second-half of the 2020s. It'll coincide with Honda's work on solid-state batteries, the automaker says, which it's hoping will be more efficient and provide greater economy than the current pack technologies.

As for Sony, having teased us with the Vision-S concept car in early 2020 – and then dashed our hopes of production – the Japanese tech behemoth dropped the surprise announcement in January 2022 that it would indeed be wading into the automotive world. Sony Mobility would build on the original concept car and a new, all-electric Vision-S 02 SUV concept, the company said, with the potential for both Sony-branded vehicles and collaborations with other automakers.

Big plans, even bigger goals

"Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities," Toshihiro Mibe, Director, President, Representative Executive Officer and CEO of Honda Motor Company said in a statement, "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."

Honda has previously said it aims to sell only electric vehicles by 2040, a goal which at the time seemed outlandish given the dearth of such models in its current portfolio. Questions still linger as to whether its sales ambitions for the Prologue EV and its Acura sibling are achievable, too.