Two big names in Japanese electronics and autos are joining forces to produce an electric vehicle together. Sony and Honda agreed to set up a joint venture this year to start selling an electric vehicle by 2025, both sides said Friday.
The plan is to bring together Honda’s expertise in mobility development, technology and sales with Sony’s imaging, telecommunication, network and entertainment expertise. A union of traditionally different manufacturing businesses is uncommon for Japan. But it makes sense in the age of electric vehicles, which lack gasoline-powered engines and have complicated electronics.
The joint venture will develop and design the product, but will use Honda’s plant for manufacturing. Sony will develop the mobility services platform. Both Sony and Honda have humble beginnings in the 1940s when Japan was rebuilding from the ashes of World War II. Both had charismatic founders.
Honda was founded by Soichiro Honda, an engineer, industrialist and reputed nonconformist. He started out helping at his father’s bicycle repair shop and eventually built Honda into a global powerhouse. He is often quoted as saying things like: A diploma is worthless, learn to work with your hands, or work for yourself and not a company.
Sony was founded by Akio Morita, who co-wrote “The Japan That Can Say No,” which advocated for a more assertive and prouder Japan, and Masaru Ibuka.
Morita had market savvy while Ibuka was known for product development. In the 1970s when Sony was developing the Walkman portable audio player, some engineers were skeptical. But Morita insisted people would want to listen to music on-the-go.
“Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different,” Honda Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe said in announcing the agreement.
“I believe this alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”