The long run that Tesla has enjoyed as the world's leading electric vehicle manufacturer may be coming to an end.
These days the question isn't who is planning to bring an EV to market, but who isn't?
At this year's giant online and in-person consumer technology trade show, CES, Sony announced that it would be getting into the electric car game; the giant automaker Stellantis said it would be fully electric later this year and Apple is still plugging away at their electric vehicle efforts.
In the few short months since Kia and Hyundai have brought their electric cars to the U.S. market they've dominated in sales.
Now more details are coming to light about Honda and Sony's joint venture and its plans to start electric vehicle sales and mobility services by 2025.
“Companies from completely different industries have different cultures and sources of value,” Toshihiro Mibe, the recently installed chief executive of Honda told Bloomberg in an April interview. “There was this idea that we could create a chemical reaction together. This was a fascinating concept, and I met with President Yoshida and said, ‘let’s do this.’”
Sony Honda Mobility is the fruit of that collaboration. Starting with a small $74 million investment the new joint venture will bring Sony's tech and software expertise to Honda's car manufacturing chops to create new electric vehicles.
"Based on our vision to `make the mobility space an emotional one,' Sony's initiatives in the mobility business are centered around the three areas of safety, entertainment and adaptability. As we continue our learnings in these areas, we are excited to have met a partner, Honda, with extensive global achievements and knowledge, and to sign the joint venture agreement between the two companies," said Sony chief executive and chairman Kenichiro Yoshida. "Going forward, we aim to contribute to the evolution of mobility by combining Honda's cutting-edge environmental and safety technologies, mobility development capabilities, vehicle body manufacturing technology and after-sales service management experience, with our expertise in imaging, sensing, telecommunication, network and entertainment technologies."
Both Honda and its counterpart Toyota were slow to embrace fully electric vehicles. Although both companies have had hybrid vehicles on the market for several years the two automakers were big believers in Hydrogen as the future fuel for clean vehicles -- not electricity.
Last year, that changed when the company announced that it would be producing nothing but battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles by 2040.
Honda's first two electric vehicles for sale in the U.S. won't come from the joint venture with Sony. Rather, the cars will be produce through a partnership that Honda has with GM.
Sony's cars -- the Vision-S 01 sedan and the Vision-S 02 prototype -- are likely to be the first fruits of the collaboration between the Japanese automaker and tech giant.
Meanwhile, a blockbuster report from the Financial Times back in September and the announcement of a new set of features earlier this month may point to scaled back ambitions from Apple around electric (and autonomous) vehicles.
“In 2010 when all these programmes got started in robotaxis by the tech companies, there was tons of hubris,” Angus Pacala, chief executive of digital lidar group Ouster, told the Financial Times last year. “They were like, ‘We’re gonna steamroll the auto industry just like Nokia and BlackBerry’. And it couldn’t be further from the truth.”
As Apple announces its new CarPlay features the focus seems to be far more on the user experience inside the car rather than building an entirely new vehicle.
Apple's touchpoint with cars now extend from the information and entertainment screens to the main instrumentation in a vehicle, as Axios reported earlier this month.
Companies whose cars will integrate with the new CarPlay include: Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Nissan, Ford, Lincoln, Audi, Jaguar, Acura, Volvo, Honda, Renault, Infiniti and Polestar.