Honda and Sony are forming a new joint venture to manufacture and market battery electric vehicles, with the first EV expected to hit the market in 2025. Sony has already created two prototype vehicles known as "Vision-S" for the goal of demonstrating and guiding the development of its electric vehicle-related technology. Honda also offers an electric vehicle, the Honda e, which is a city car with a retro-style and adorable appearance that has won hearts.
Honda and Sony described their new endeavour as an extension of their previous discussions and exploration of a strategic cooperation focused on developing innovative mobility services.
Toshihiro Mibe, CEO of Honda said,
“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."
Despite the fact that Sony and Honda have a lot of historical and cultural connections, their technological knowledge is vastly different. However, this might bring the strengths of both companies together. Many have characterized this new alliance as a strategy to counter Tesla's supremacy, the reality is that all-electric vehicle makers are following in Tesla's footsteps and attempting to bring together a diverse range of industries to equal Tesla's dominance.
Sony Group's Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida, left, and Honda's Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe
The new Honda-Sony partnership will combine Honda's mobility development and manufacturing capabilities, as well as after-sales service management, with Sony's competence in image, sensing, telecommunication, network, and entertainment technologies development and application.
The ensuing relationship, according to the two organizations, would enable a new generation of mobility and services that are closely connected with people and the environment, and will continue to evolve in the future. The company's mention of Sony's competence in 'imaging and sensing,' which could allude to a prospective concentration on autonomous electric vehicles, is particularly intriguing.
Honda and Sony will now move forwards with negotiations to sign a joint development and joint venture agreement, with the goal of forming their new joint venture this year. However, while the new firm would plan, design, manufacture, and sell electric vehicles, it will not own or run its own production facilities, instead relying on Honda's existing facilities. Sony is also anticipated to develop a mobility service platform that will be used by the new company.
At the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2022), Sony showed its second prototype electric car, which is not meant to go into commercial production — at least not for the time being. Instead, the Vision-S o2 electric SUV will serve as yet another testbed for Sony's imaging and sensing technology, as well as a possible precursor to the corporation's newly announced Sony Mobility subsidiary entering the market with Sony-branded autonomous EVs.
Vision S Unveiling
This isn't the first time Sony – best known for its cameras, sound systems, consumer electronics, and PlayStation gaming console – has shown off a concept electric vehicle that will never be marketed to the general public.
At CES 2020, the company announced its Vision-S initiative, aimed at assisting in the evolution of electric mobility, and unveiled the Vision-S 01, a sleek sedan that would go on to conduct verification tests of the imaging and sensing technology installed inside and outside the vehicle, as well as the human-machine interface (HMI) system's safety and user experience.
Sony's Vision-S safety technology recognizes and analyses the surrounding environment in real time, thanks to sensors installed throughout the vehicle with 360-degree resolution, including high-sensitivity, high-resolution, wide dynamic range CMOS image sensors and LiDAR sensors that accurately sense three-dimensional space.
The Vision-S technology, according to Sony, offers "intuitive driver engagement in conjunction with the car's sound system and HMI system, allowing the driver to precisely estimate the condition of the surrounding environment, such as the presence of emergency vehicles, even from inside the vehicle."
The Vision-S sensors from Sony also monitor the driver and passengers in the vehicle, allowing for natural gesture and speech instructions. By connecting the vehicle to the cloud via mobile communication, vehicle settings, key locks, and user settings can all be synchronized, while the same connected communication can also provide for remote operations such as low-latency transmission of video and control signals and communication control.