Sony to set up subsidiary for electric car push

Consumer electronics company is planning to use its technology expertise to aid its diversification

Sony chairman and president Kenichiro Yoshida introduces the Vision-S 02, an SUV prototype produced by Sony. AFP

Japan's Sony Group plans to set up a company this spring to focus on electric vehicles as it looks to harness its strengths in entertainment and sensors to play a bigger role in next-generation mobility.

The subsidiary, Sony Mobility, comes at a time when the Japanese technology company is assessing plans for the commercial launch of electric vehicles, Sony chairman and president Kenichiro Yoshida told a news conference before the start of the CES technology trade fair in the US.

"With our imaging and sensing, cloud, 5G and entertainment technologies combined with our content mastery, we believe Sony is well positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility," he said.

Although its once-dominant position in consumer electronics has been eroded by Asian rivals such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics, Sony still has an arsenal of sophisticated technology in areas such as sensors critical to self-driving.

It also remains one of the world's biggest entertainment companies, home to prominent video game and movie franchises.

Audio and entertainment systems are increasingly a focus for next-generation vehicles.

Shares in Sony jumped 4.2 per cent in Tokyo after the electric vehicle plans were announced, easily outpacing a flat Nikkei index.

Mr Yoshida unveiled a prototype sport utility vehicle, the Vision-S 02, which uses the same electric vehicle platform as the previously announced Vision-S 01 coupe that began testing on public roads in Europe from December 2020.

He said the company regards mobility as an "entertainment space" where passengers can choose individual entertainment options and use 5G to connect to the internet.

Wall Street is betting heavily on electric cars and the global industry has been upended by Tesla, now the world's most valuable car maker. Many investors also expect Apple to launch its own vehicle within the next few years.

Japan's Toyota committed $70 billion in December to electrify its cars by 2030.

Updated: January 5th 2022, 6:55 AM