TOKYO, Oct. 13 (Reuters) – A joint venture founded by Japan’s Sony Group Corp (6758.T) and Honda Motor (7267.T) aims to deliver its first electric vehicles by 2026 and will sell them online, starting in the United States and Japan.
The new EV will also be priced more expensively and will feature a new software system developed by Sony that will pave the way for recurring revenue from entertainment and other services billed monthly, the companies said.
The update from the joint venture, Sony Honda Mobility, is the first since the two companies launched the project in June.
Key details including pricing, battery range and even the platform for the new vehicle have not been determined, but representatives of the new company have worked out a vision for a vehicle that would function almost like a rolling smartphone.
Sony will provide the software system for the new car, from the onboard controllers to cloud-based services that connect to entertainment and payment systems.
It will also provide sensors and other technology for a Level 3 autonomous driving system, allowing drivers to pay more attention to the content and software services on offer.
In Level 3 systems, also known as limited self-driving automation, drivers can drive without looking at the road or control the steering wheel on the highway, but must be ready to take back control.
Tesla (TSLA.O), General Motors (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (FN) and Mercedes Benz (MBGn.DE) all offer some form of hands-free driver assistance systems.
“As safe driving technology will continue to evolve and the amount of concentration needed to drive will be reduced, we need to consider new ways to enjoy and spend time in the cabin as a whole,” said Izumi Kawanishi, the president and executive of the joint venture. at Sony.
Honda will decide on the platform the new vehicle will use and details such as the battery supplier. The yet-to-be-named EV will likely be manufactured by Honda at one of its Ohio plants.
Honda, like its bigger rival Toyota Motor (7203.T), has been slow to switch its fleet to electric. It has also struggled over the years to make a profit in the luxury car market with its Acura brand.
Yasuhide Mizuno, the joint venture’s chairman and CEO, and a senior Honda director, said the project was important for Honda to develop a “longer-term relationship” with its car buyers as the vehicle shifts to become more of a become a connected device.
Mizuno said Honda believed 2025 would be a pivotal year in the shift to EVs in the U.S. market and that the joint venture believed it should make it to that opening, even if it means a compressed development cycle for the new EV.
The new EV will be delivered to the Japanese market in the second half of 2026. The two companies are considering a launch for Europe, but no plan has been drawn up. Orders for the new EV should open in 2025, the companies said.
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Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa
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