Honda & Sony establish SHM joint venture
Sony and Honda have established their announced joint venture for electric cars and mobility services. With the founding of Sony Honda Mobility (SHM), the new company has revealed its production location and timeline, starting with pre-orders in 2025.
The name Sony Honda Mobility was decided last summer. The company based in Tokyo is owned equally by the two partners with an initial capital of 10 billion yen (about 70 million euros). Although SHM is based in Japan, the products will be built in Japan but in the USA, where Honda is ramping up battery production and electric car plants. Pre-orders for the first electric car are scheduled for the first half of 2025, while sales should commence before the end of 2025. Deliveries are already scheduled to start in the United States in the spring of 2026, followed by Japan in the second half of 2026.
The joint venture’s “high value-added EV concept” – will presumably be an electric car or SUV but also produce what it describes as “mobility services.” The joint venture says both – which appear to be one multifaceted product, i.e. an electric car and related or surrounding products and services – are defined by the SHM 3A’ s for Autonomy, Augmentation, and Affinity.
This appears to be a similar concept to that which Nio is currently rolling out in Europe: presenting the car as a mobile lounge with lots of onboard entertainment possibilities, including augmented reality glasses for passengers. This appears to be the kind of thing that SHM means by “Augmentation”. Also similar to Nio is the SHM idea of cultivating feedback loops with customers and engaging them and others in a “community” to constantly perfect the company’s products. This would encapsulate what appears to be the SHM concept with “Affinity”: a range of services and related products designed to keep customer interest, feedback and sense of belonging beyond the relatively straightforward product of a vehicle to get from A to B.
In terms of “Autonomy”, the new joint venture SHM aims to develop Level 3 automated drive “under limited conditions” – which is presumably things like driving on a highway – and to enable Level 2+ driver assistance in even more “situations such as urban driving”. Technically, the two companies say that the hardware here includes high-performance SoC1 with total processing power exceeding 800 TOPS2.
This is another trend noticeable in electric cars, touting the car as not only a mobile lounge but a mobile AI computer. Nio, for example, has introduced the high-powered and complex Banyan “intelligent vehicle system” that even comes with a little responsive face for the interactive bot on the dashboard. In another similar move, Hyundai recently revealed a roadmap for software-defined vehicles. Among other things, these technological trends encompass over-the-air updates as a standard feature and connect drivers and passengers with their lifestyles of choice beyond their time spent in the vehicle, including contact with other people in the community bubble that the vehicle manufacturer propagates.
The collaboration between Sony and Honda would appear ideal for this future of cars as the two companies respectively cover the automotive and consumer electronics fields. Sony has been working on sensor technologies that will surpass the human eye – important for autonomous driving, for example, but also for various safety functions. Sony has built up a great deal of expertise in camera sensors, which have so far been used primarily in smartphones. The consumer electronics giant has been working on its own electric car prototypes: The VISION-S 02, presented at the CES in the USA this year; is an SUV offshoot of its first prototype, the VISION-S 01 electric sedan presented at CES 2020.
Honda’s plans, a little late to the BEV party, have involved utilising the Ultium Platform from General Motors before it gets going with its all-new electric platform of its own called e:Architecture to take over in by 2025. This is presumably when the software, computing and consumer electronics expertise from Sony comes to the fore, and the products jointly developed by the two Japanese companies finally bear fruit.