In June, Sony and Honda announced the creation of a new company — called Sony Honda Mobility — that will manufacture electric cars together. 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.”
In a joint press conference this week, the new company said the cars will be manufactured at one of Honda’s 12 US manufacturing facilities, most likely in Ohio, where Honda has been making motorcycles and automobiles for decades. It will begin accepting orders in late 2025, with the first deliveries taking place in 2026.
According to Nikkei Asia, the new EVs will be developed with a focus on their role as entertainment spaces that provide music and games, in addition to traditional elements such as performance and safety. “The first delivery is expected to be in North America in the spring of 2026. In Japan, delivery is planned to begin in the second half of 2026,” Yasuhide Mizuno, chairman of the joint venture, said on Thursday. Sales in Europe may follow.
The joint venture intends to promote its EVs as places to enjoy even while not driving. The company will pursue “new entertainment possibilities” such as integrating the real and virtual worlds, utilizing the metaverse, and “creating new communities” within the mobile space, Mizuno said.
Online Sales A Possibility
The joint venture will focus on online sales as part of its strategy to “connect directly with customers,” Mizuno said. The vehicles will be priced at “a reasonable amount,” appropriate to “added high-value” components such as software. Sony will develop the in-vehicle software and entertainment technologies, while Honda will take on the task of building the car itself and developing safety technologies.
“Until now, cars competed on manufacturer elements” like driving performance and safety, Mizuno said. Such factors would continue to be important, but the company hopes to add value by combining them with software technologies and to “compete in these areas.”
Sony Honda Mobility & Dealers
According to Autoweek, Honda and Acura dealers in America are feeling nervous about this online sales strategy. Some suggest that doing so would violate their franchise agreements, but if the cars are sold under a new brand, there may not be much they can do about it.
“These issues are certainly a concern,” Brian Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda/Acura in Queens, New York, told Autoweek. “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.”
Mike Law runs eight dealerships, including a Honda store, for LaFontaine Automotive Group in Dearborn, Michigan. He believes the heavy investments required to develop electric cars favor using existing dealers. “As much as maybe some people want to push the dealers out, I believe the consumers still enjoy the process of the purchase,” he said.
That remark brought gales of laughter at CleanTechnica headquarters where the staff were enjoying tabbouleh and Melba toast around our biogas-fueled outdoor fire pit. “Enjoy the process of the purchase?” Can we have some of what you’re smoking, Mike?
The engine driving the new Sony Honda Mobility juggernaut is a familiar one in the industry. Companies continue to believe there are piles of money to be made by getting people to pay for the privilege of accessing online content in their cars. Some of us aren’t so sure. Will people really leave the comfort of their living rooms to go watch re-runs of My Mother The Car or listen to the latest mega-hit on Spotify in their Sony Honda? That seems unlikely, except for rare occasions while camping or waiting for the power to come back on after a storm. And yet that is the heart of the Sony Honda Mobility joint venture.
In any event, Honda has broken out of its anti–electric car funk recently. It will build at least two battery-powered cars in conjunction with General Motors at its Spring Hill factory in Tennessee and has just announced a major investment in electric car production in Ohio this week. It also has taken the wraps off the Honda Prologue, a rather tasty looking electric SUV that will probably be built in Ohio. The Sony/Honda mashup could be seen as a preemptive strike on Apple, which has been threatening to jump into the car business for nearly a decade.
Honda did not choose to take the lead in the EV revolution, but may yet become a serious electric car company. A concept of the first car from Sony and Honda is scheduled to be unveiled at CES in Las Vegas this January.
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Source: Clean Technica