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Sony to help Honda produce new electric cars in an uncommon move for Japanese businesses

Sony and Honda will join forces to produce innovative electric vehicle. An uncommon move in Japanese business.

Honda CR-V electric car
Honda CR-V electric car at the Paris autoshow | © Thesupermat, 2012

Sony Group Corp. and Honda Motor Co. agreed to create a joint venture to sell an electric vehicle by 2025, the two companies announced on March 4.

On one side, Honda would bring its expertise in mobility development, technology and sales. On the other, Sony has imaging, telecommunication, network and entertainment expertise. The goal is to create new, serendipitous and out-of-the-box value “in a chemical reaction,” Honda Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe told reporters at the press conference.

A union of businesses operating in different verticals is not common in Japan.

All automakers have been developing zero-emissions electric vehicles. But they depend always more on complicated electronics than fueled-powered cars Honda has traditionally been producing.

Honda will use its plant for manufacturing but the joint venture will develop and design the product. Sony will develop the mobility services platform.

Yet, Honda already has its own electric vehicle program producing the CR-V sport utility vehicle and Clarity plug-in hybrid. Honda will continue with its own EV program.

Sony Group Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said they were eager to find an auto partner. The company showed an electric car concept at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas two years ago.

“We’re so used to thinking within the category of autos, it’s hard to think outside that box,” said Honda C.E.O. “Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different. […] This alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”

Honda was founded by a non-conformist engineer and Sony became successful with innovation breakthroughs like the Walkman portable audio player in the 1970s.

Financial markets were however not as enthusiastic both company leaders. On Friday, Honda shares were down 4.5% and Sony’s lost 3.2%.

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