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Honda & Sony Will Build Electric Cars Together

Apple may never get around to selling electric cars — that project has been on again/off again for years. Honda is another company that has been dancing around the electric car question. First it embraced hydrogen fuel cells with the Clarity sedan, then converted that car into a plug-in hybrid before ending production completely. Recently, it has contracted with GM to build some electric cars on The General’s Ultium platform.

Now, The Verge reports that Honda and Sony will form a new company to manufacture electric cars together. They have signed a memorandum of understanding (a sort of pre-contract contract that says the parties to the pre-contract definitely intend to sign an actual contract very, very soon). The first cars from the as yet unnamed company are expected to go on sale in 2025, which is pretty quick, given the fact that designing a new car and getting it into production typically takes 5 to 7 years in the real world.

Honda will manufacture the first model, with the new company handling the vehicle’s design, development, and sales, and Sony will develop a mobility service platform. The partnership is intended to combine Honda’s expertise in making and marketing cars with Sony’s capabilities in image sensors, telecommunications, and entertainment.

“Sony’s purpose is to fill the world with emotion through the power of creativity and technology,” Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said in a statement. “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.”

“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,” says Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe. “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. Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different. Therefore, I believe this alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”

What to call the new company will be an interesting dilemma for Honda and Sony, both of whom enjoy strong name recognition in the marketplace. Consumers do not transfer their brand loyalty from something they know to something new overnight. It took Toyota and Nissan a decade or more to make their Lexus and Infiniti brands viable. Honda’s Acura division sells little more than rebadged Hondas (with a few exceptions) the way Mercurys were mostly just Fords with crushed velour upholstery.

The statements from the two CEOs are packed with happy talk and buzzwords, but offer few details. We at CleanTechnica are always glad to see new participants in the EV revolution, but is there a place for a Honda/Sony something or other? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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