Sony seeks partners to transform cars into 'entertainment spaces'

Sony seeks partners to transform cars into 'entertainment spaces'

Sony Group will likely add new technology partners to its electric vehicle (EV) project to help it forge a mobility business to transform cars from transportation machines to entertainment spaces, a Sony executive told Reuters.

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

“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. The coming transformation of cars was in some ways similar to how information technology turned phones into smartphones, he added.

Announcing the creation of that new mobility unit at the CES technology tech fair in Las Vegas this month, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida suggested for the first time that the creator of PlayStation games consoles will try to turn an EV development project started two years ago into a money-making venture.

“We understand that speed is important in terms of making a decision,” said Kawanishi, who joined the Japanese firm as a software engineer in 1986 and heads the AI Robotics unit making Sony’s Aibo robot pet. Kawanishi declined to say whether a final decision on whether to go ahead would come this year.

So far, Sony has built two EV “Vision” proto-types with a factory in Austria owned by Canadian auto parts maker Magna International, which also makes cars for BMW, Mercedes Benz and Toyota Motor.