Back in March, Sony and Honda signed a memorandum of understanding which said the two companies intend to jointly manufacture electric cars together, with Sony bringing its expertise in electronics to the party and Honda leveraging its expertise in manufacturing, distribution, and sales of vehicles.
At the time, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said, “Sony’s purpose is to fill the world with emotion through the power of creativity and technology. 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.”
Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe added, “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. We will do so by leveraging Honda’s cutting edge technology and know-how in relation to the environment and safety, while aligning the technological assets of both companies. 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.”
Sony Honda Mobility
Now the new joint venture is official and will be known as Sony Honda Mobility. In Japanese culture, where image is so important, that suggests Honda is the junior partner, but that is irrelevant to most people. The first new vehicles from the company should go on sale in 2025. Other details are rather vague. In a press release, the companies offer us some happy talk about how Sony Honda Mobility Inc will leverage “Honda’s cutting-edge environmental and safety technologies, mobility development capabilities, vehicle body manufacturing technology, and after-sales service management experience.”
Sony will provide its “expertise in the development and application of imaging, sensing, telecommunication, network, and entertainment technologies, to realize a new generation of mobility and services for mobility that are closely aligned with users and the environment and continue to evolve going forward.”
Sony has previously revealed two battery-electric concept cars, the Vision-S 01 sedan and the Vision-S 02 crossover SUV. Whether either of those will actually go into production is not clear. What is also not clear is Honda’s overall strategy. It has an agreement with General Motors to build two battery-electric SUVs — one for Honda and one for Acura — using GM’s Ultium electric car platform. Those cars will supposedly be built by GM at its factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and use Ultium batteries supplied by GM.
Honda says it plans to increase its sales of battery-electric and fuel cell powered cars to 40% of total global sales by 2030 and 80% by 2035, before finally transitioning away from cars powered by internal combustion engines completely by 2040. (Market forces may have something to say about Honda’s timeline.) The company promises to have a new dedicated electric vehicle platform sometime in the second half of this decade. Known as e:Architecture, it will be inaugurated on a series of US-bound cars before hitting other markets, according to Motor 1.
You can be forgiven if you think Honda should spend less time talking about the wonderful things it has planned for 5, 10, or 15 years from now and start shouldering more of the burden of transitioning to a fossil fuel free future today. It does seem to be pursuing a strategy of throwing a lot of ideas against the wall, hoping some of them might stick and save it from having a close encounter with a painful Kodak moment of its own. Will Honda still be in business in 2040? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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