Honda is focusing on automated driver-assist technology while Sony will provide metaverse-related entertainment, all on a car Americans can order online starting in 2025 for 2026 delivery.
- Sony and Honda are following up on their earlier announcement of an electric-vehicle partnership, saying the first EV from this deal will go on sale in the U.S. first and then in Japan.
- The two companies have now officially established Sony Honda Mobility, which has a stated mission to “move people through the pursuit of innovation with diverse inspirations.”
- U.S. customers will be able to order the cars online in early 2025 for spring 2026 delivery.
Honda’s big electric-vehicle news week continues with a buzzword-filled announcement that the automaker and electronics giant Sony have officially established Sony Honda Mobility Inc. (SHM), which will become a software-oriented mobility tech company, to sell a new electric vehicle in the U.S. and Japan in the coming years. As Reuters pointed out, it’s very likely that some features will be subscription based, meaning owners will pay monthly fees to get some of the entertainment or tech choices available on the EV.
SHM, which claims its purpose is to “move people through the pursuit of innovation with diverse inspirations,” will start taking pre-orders for its EV in the first half of 2025. The EV will go on sale by the end of that year, with a focus on online transactions. The first deliveries of SHM’s EV will take place in the U.S. in the spring of 2026 and in Japan in the second half of the year.
Both companies are moving separately toward building EVs. Honda is fresh from showing off its latest zero-emission concept, the 2024 Prologue. Sony revealed a new EV concept called the Vision-S 02 at CES in January (that’s its interior in the photo above). Honda and Sony publicly joined forces in an EV effort in March 2022 with a memorandum of understanding that they would create a 50/50 strategic alliance for mobility. In June 2022, the companies signed a joint venture agreement that they would establish SHM. The new announcement said SHM will be “actively building partnerships with other companies” as it works on its new EV.
Seeking Honda Loyalists
Honda has previously said it will rely on its loyal fans to stick with it as it shifts to electric vehicles. SHM said its target audience for the new EV will be similarly connected to the brand, even if they don’t own the car. Sony Honda Mobility did not provide any technical or design details about its first EV, but did say that the concept would be defined by 3 As, which are Autonomy, Augmentation, and Affinity. SHM chairman and CEO Yasuhide Mizuno told reporters the future EV would be priced at “a reasonable amount.”
Adding some sort of autonomous technology to an EV launching in 2025 seems like table stakes at this point. To that end, SHM will develop Level 3 automated driving tech that works under “limited conditions” and will use Level 2+ driver-assistance features in situations, like urban driving, where the L3 tech can’t operate. SHM plans to use a system on a chip that’s capable of more than 800 tera operations per second (TOPS) to process these self-driving features.
SHM is introducing something new when it comes to the augmentation and affinity aspects of this new EV. The early augmentation features build on tech available today, including cloud-based personalized information that will offer “entertainment beyond driving” that takes place in an “emotional space.” Again, details are sparse, but SHM is already talking about using “digital innovations such as the metaverse” as it adds augmentation to its electric vehicles.
Finally, the affinity aspect expands the emotional side of the new SHM EV. Sony Honda Mobility said it wants to move not just your physical body, but your emotions, as well. The upcoming electric vehicle could one day use digital tools to bridge the driving experience with the metaverse, whatever that means.
Potentially tying the SHM announcement to Honda’s big electric-vehicle plans in Ohio this week, SHM said it plans to manufacture its EV at a Honda factory in North America. Honda currently operates 12 vehicle and component plants in the U.S. and this week announced it is building a new production EV facility in Ohio with LG Energy Solution. The EV plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.