Honda & Sony establish SHM joint venture

Sony and Honda have formed their announced joint venture for electric cars and mobility services. With the formation of Sony Honda Mobility (SHM), the new company has announced its manufacturing location and schedule, beginning with pre-orders in 2025.

The Sony Honda Mobility name was decided last summer. The Tokyo-based company is equally owned by the two partners with seed capital of 10 billion yen (about 70 million euros). Although SHM is based in Japan, the products are built in Japan but in the US, where Honda is ramping up battery production and electric car factories. Pre-orders for the first electric car are planned for the first half of 2025, while sales are expected to take place begin before the end of 2025. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the United States in the sSpring 2026, followed by Japan in the second half of 2026.

The “EV concept with high added value” – will presumably be an electric car or SUV, but will also produce what it calls “mobility services”. The joint venture says that both – which appear like a multi-faceted product, ie an electric car and related or surrounding products and services – are defined by the SHM 3A’s for AAutonomy, Augmentation and Affinity.

This appears to be a similar concept to what Nio is currently rolling out in Europe: presenting the car as a mobile lounge with many onboard entertainment options, including augmented reality glasses for passengers. This seems to be the sort of thing SHM means by “augmentation”. Similar to Nio, SHM’s idea is to cultivate feedback loops with customers and involve them and others in a “community” to constantly perfect the company’s products. This would sum up the apparent SHM concept with “affinity”: a range of services and related products designed to maintain customer interest, feedback and a sense of belonging beyond the relatively simple product of a vehicle to get from A to to reach B.

In terms of “autonomy”, the new joint venture is SHM The aim is to develop and enable Level 3 automated driving “under restricted conditions” – these are probably things like driving on a freeway Driver assistance level 2+ in even more “situations like city traffic”. Technically, the two companies say that the hardware here includes high-performance SoC1 with a total processing power of more than 800 TOPS2.

This is another trend emerging with electric cars, touting the car not just as a mobile lounge but as a mobile AI computer. For example, Nio introduced the powerful and complex “intelligent car system” Banyan, which even comes with a small responsive face for the interactive bot on the dashboard. In another similar move, Hyundai recently unveiled a roadmap for software-defined vehicles. These technological trends include, among other things, over-the-air updates as a standard feature and connect drivers and passengers with their lifestyle beyond the time in the vehicle, including contact with other people in the community bubble that the vehicle manufacturer touts.

The collaboration between Sony and Honda seems ideal for this future of the car, as the two companies cover the fields of automotive and consumer electronics respectively. Sony is 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 lot of know-how in camera sensors, which have so far mainly been used in smartphones. The consumer electronics giant is working on its own electric car prototypes: the VISION-S 02, presented at CES in the US this year; is an SUV offshoot of its first prototype, the VISION-S 01 electric sedan presented at CES 2020.

Honda’s plans, a bit late to the BEV party, were to use General Motors’ Ultium platform before launching their brand new proprietary electric platform called e:Architecture to adopt by 2025. This is probably the time Sony’s software, computing and consumer electronics expertise comes to the fore, and the products jointly developed by the two Japanese companies are finally bearing fruit.