Sony Group Corp. has joined with Honda to build its first electric vehicle. The high-end model is expected to provide entertainment including movies and video games, which would cost extra. The Sony-Honda electric car venture will outsource manufacturing to Honda while Sony will build several functions that would make it a fairly high-priced car.
Kenichiro Yoshida, the chief executive of Sony Group Corp. told the Wall Street Journal that the car market would move towards a service model. He said that customers would continue to pay for entertainment as well as software downloads. In the interview, he also spoke of Tesla, which charges different subscriptions for better connectivity.
The CEO compared this future trend in electric vehicles (EV) to the existing one in the company’s extremely popular product Sony PlayStation. Sony sells its PlayStation as a hardware product. It has a subscription service called PlayStation Plus that has multiplayer services. It also offers games to download. The service had 47.4 million subscribers, according to its first quarter report of the year.
In the interview with the WSJ, which took place after Mr. Yoshida visited the Honda factory, the CEO said that he had checked several operations such as tooling, welding and painting at the car maker’s plant in Ohio. He also said that it would “be rough” to manufacture an EV on their own and that they really needed a partner.
He also noted that the joint 50-50 venture that is currently in place, could change and that Sony could work with other electric vehicle manufacturers in future. When asked for comment on the CEO’s tour of the Honda factory in the nation, the car maker declined to comment.
Many high-end carmakers such as Mercedes Benz, Audi and Lexus as well as luxury car makers such as Bentley, Rolls Royce, Maserati, Aston Martin are venturing into production of electric vehicles in the next few years. Perhaps Sony would like to provide high end entertainment for all these EVs.