Sony and Honda have officially launched their mobility joint venture that aims to begin delivery of premium electric vehicles with self-driving capabilities in the United States in spring 2026, followed by Japan in the second half of 2026.
The joint venture by hardware, software and entertainment group Sony and automaker Honda to produce what the companies promise will be a highly intelligent vehicle perfectly illustrates the direction of the automotive industry today. As the software-defined vehicle moves beyond car performance and into autonomous territory, cars are no longer just about transportation — they’re about entertainment, and automakers are trying to up the ante. The future of premium vehicles will be less about torque and horsepower and leather seats, and more about what a driver can do to have fun when they take their hands off the wheel.
Earlier this week, BMW teamed up with AirConsole to bring in-car gaming to the BMW 7 Series next year, a series that will already be built with Amazon Fire TV for streaming. Volvo is working to integrate Google Home and YouTube into its vehicles. And let’s not even get started on EVs that promise crypto mining.
The JV launch comes a few months after Sony and Honda signed a JV agreement to establish the new software-driven “mobility technology company,” simply called Sony Honda Mobility Inc. (SHM). The JV will begin accepting pre-orders for its first product in the first half of 2025 and will begin selling entirely online before the end of that year, the companies said.
The new EV, which will initially be built at Honda’s North American plant, will be developed with Level 3 automated driving capabilities in limited conditions and with advanced Level 2 driver assistance systems that can handle situations as complex as city driving, according to with companies. . According to SAE, Level 3 autonomy means the car can drive in certain situations, such as traffic jams, when automated features are activated, but the human driver must take over when the system asks.
Sony will provide the sensors and technology for the autonomous capabilities, as well as all the other software, from cloud-based services to entertainment, which drivers will hopefully be able to enjoy even better since they don’t have to drive the car. year. The companies didn’t share too much about what the entertainment system will look like, but they did say that the metaverse will be involved.
“SHM aims to evolve the mobility space into an entertainment and emotional space by seamlessly integrating real and virtual worlds and exploring new entertainment possibilities through digital innovations such as the metaverse,” according to SHM.
Neither Sony nor Honda responded to TechCrunch’s request for more information on exactly how they plan to integrate the metaverse into a vehicle, however, it’s possible that SHM will integrate augmented reality through safety features, as BMW did.
Part of SHM’s mission is to “create new mobility entertainment” and position mobility as a “mobility experience service”. What exactly does this mean? We don’t have all the details yet, but it looks like SHM is subscribing to the same newsletter as other luxury brands that want to encourage drivers to interact with the vehicle more than their phones.
Other details missing from the JV announcement include price, battery range or even the type of vehicle we’re looking at.
Honda has been slow to push its own electric vehicles, so the JV with Sony is also a move towards not just EVs, but the concept of the car as a connected device. The Sony Honda EV, if launched, will also help Honda gain a foothold in the US luxury vehicle market