Sony is launching a new company to “explore entry” into the electric vehicle market, joining a long list of technology groups considering entering the next-generation car business.
Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida announced plans to open the subsidiary, called Sony Mobility, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this spring, pushing the group’s Japanese shares up more than 4.5%.
Rise in stock prices built on yesterday’s gains, propelled by the massive holiday box office success of the Sony Pictures film Spider-Man: No Path Home.
Sony unveiled a prototype electric vehicle called the Vision-S sedan two years ago, which was primarily seen as a way to promote the batteries and sensors the group sells to other automakers. The Vision-S has been road tested in Europe since 2020.
A Tokyo-based fund manager whose portfolio includes Sony said he was uncertain whether the push towards electric vehicles would represent a long-term benefit for the company’s shares, especially given its history of enthusiastic involvement in projects that generated minimal profits.
Whether Sony plans to do the manufacturing itself would be essential, the fund manager added. “An outsourced model where Sony design and third party construction could be interesting. Sony trying to be the next Tesla wouldn’t be. I’m surprised Sony is rising in the news.
Other analysts shared this curiosity about the rise in Sony shares, noting that the company’s interest in electric vehicles had increased several years ago.
Yoshida on Tuesday introduced the Vision-S 2, a sport utility vehicle with more room for entertainment devices that Sony and other companies say will become essential to the driving experience in an automobile.
In addition to having seat speakers to create a “three-dimensional sound field” around the passengers and panoramic screens, the car will allow both game streaming and remote connection to a PlayStation console.
David Gibson, longtime Sony analyst at MST Financial, said the announcement was unlikely to represent a big strategic shift on the part of the Japanese company, arguing it was likely more to produce a showcase for its electronic components and systems for sale to competitors in the automotive industry. .
“It’s no coincidence that they’ve gone for an SUV – a lot of the credibility Sony seeks will be in the ruggedness of their components and their suitability with major automakers. The automobile market is difficult to enter, and that suggests that Sony is betting that building a car is a good way to get noticed, ”said Gibson.
Sony said other features will include the ability for drivers to customize the sounds the car makes when the otherwise quiet battery motor shifts gears. In addition to the traditional engine roar, the vehicle could theoretically emit sample tunes, movie quotes or squeals of joy as the vehicle accelerates and brakes, a spokesperson said.
Other tech companies have spent years experimenting with cars without bringing a vehicle to market.
Google started working on self-driving cars in 2009, and Apple has a secret self-driving project in the works.
Dyson, the British group known for its vacuum cleaners, scrapped its electric vehicle project after determining it was not commercially viable.