Sony seeks new partners for transformative EV project – executive

  • Sony seeks partners to turn cars into entertainment spaces
  • Transformation of cars similar to the rise of smartphones

TOKYO, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Sony Group (6758.T) is likely to add new technology partners to its electric vehicle (EV) project to help it forge a mobility company to turn cars into transportation machines into entertainment spaces, said a Sony executive. Reuters.

The continued shift to electric cars, which are easier to build than those with internal combustion engines, is allowing new entrants to get into vehicle manufacturing. At the same time, autonomous driving and 5G connectivity are expected to reshape the automotive industry by turning cars into mobile platforms for information and entertainment services.

“We consider the risk of ignoring electric vehicles to be greater than the challenge they pose,” said Izumi Kawanishi, the senior managing director who will manage a new Sony Mobility business, in an interview. The coming transformation of cars was in some ways similar to how information technology transformed phones into smartphones, he added.

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Announcing the creation of this new mobility unit at the CES tech show in Las Vegas this month, Sony chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida suggested for the first time that the creator of PlayStation games consoles would try to turn a project electric vehicle development company launched two years ago into a lucrative business. Read more

“We understand that speed is important when 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 the company’s Aibo robot. from Sony.

Kawanishi declined to say whether a final decision on whether to move forward will come this year.

THE PARTNERS

Sony has so far built two prototype “Vision” electric vehicles with a factory in Austria owned by Canadian auto parts maker Magna International (MG.TO), which also makes cars for companies including BMW, Mercedes Benz and Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T).

Other members of its Europe-based project include German auto parts maker Bosch, French automotive technology company Valeo SE and Hungarian self-driving vehicle start-up AImotive.

To bring an electric vehicle to market, Sony would likely need to invest heavily in factories and equipment. Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), which delivered its first electric vehicle in 2008, has spent billions of dollars to make its business viable.

Sony will also have to tackle traditional automakers, such as Toyota, General Motors Co (GM.N) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), which are spending tens of billions of dollars to beat electric vehicle entrants.

Sony is among a growing list of tech companies exploring automotive opportunities, including iPhone maker Apple Inc (AAPL.O), South Korea’s LG Electronics (066570.KS), Taiwan’s (066570.KS) Foxconn (2317.TW) and Chinese Alibaba Group (9988.HK)

Sony will choose new partners for its EV project based on the technology they can bring to the project, regardless of nationality, Kawanishi said when asked if Sony would partner with Chinese companies.

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Reporting by Tim Kelly and Shinji Kitamura; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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