Daily Management Review

Japan’s Sony Looking Out For New Partners For A Transformative EV Project


The Japanese tech giant Sony is likely to add additional technology partners to its electric vehicle (EV) initiative with the aim to help it construct a mobility business that will transform automobiles from transportation machines to entertainment areas, said reports quoting an executive of the country.
Electric automobiles, which are easier to manufacture than cars with internal combustion engines, are allowing new entries into the vehicle manufacturing industry. Simultaneously, autonomous driving and 5G connection are projected to reshape the automotive industry by transforming automobiles into mobile platforms for information and entertainment.
"We see the risk of ignoring EVs as greater than the challenge they pose," Izumi Kawanishi, the senior general manager who will manage a new Sony Mobility business, said in an interview.
He went on to say that the upcoming revolution of autos was akin to how information technology transformed phones into smartphones.
Sony Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida announced the creation of that new mobility unit at the CES technology tech fair in Las Vegas this month, implying for the first time that the maker of PlayStation game consoles will try to turn an EV development project started two years ago into a profit-making venture.
"We understand that speed is important in terms of making a decision," said Kawanishi, who joined the Japanese consumer electronics company as a software engineer in 1986 and heads the AI Robotics unit making Sony's Aibo robot pet.
Kawanishi did not indicate if a final decision on whether to proceed would be made this year.
So far, Sony has produced two EV "Vision" prototypes with a plant in Austria operated by Magna International, a Canadian auto components manufacturer that also produces cars for BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Toyota Motor Corp.
Bosch, a German car parts manufacturer, Valeo SE, a French automotive technology business, and AImotive, a Hungarian autonomous vehicle start-up, are among the other partners of its Europe-based initiative.
Sony would almost certainly have to invest considerably in plants and equipment to bring an EV to market. Tesla Inc has spent billions of dollars to make its business profitable since delivering its first electric vehicle in 2008.
Traditional carmakers such as Toyota, General Motors Co, and Volkswagen AG, which are spending tens of billions of dollars to beat the EV newcomers, will now have to compete with Sony.
Sony is one of a rising number of technology companies looking at automotive potential, including Apple Inc., LG Electronics of South Korea, Foxconn of Taiwan, and Alibaba Group of China.
When asked if Sony will cooperate with Chinese companies, Kawanishi responded that Sony would choose new partners for its EV initiative based on the technology they can provide to the project, not on their nationality.