TOKYO – According to Reuters, Sony Group will likely add additional technological partners to its electric vehicle (EV) initiative to enable it construct a mobility company to turn automobiles from transportation machines to entertainment places.

A continuing transition to electric automobiles, which are easier to produce than those powered by internal combustion engines, is allowing new entrants into the vehicle manufacturing industry. Simultaneously, autonomous driving and 5G connection are projected to reshape the automotive sector by transforming automobiles into mobile platforms for information and entertainment services.

“We regard the risk of neglecting EVs as bigger than the difficulty they provide,” said Izumi Kawanishi, senior general manager of a new Sony Mobility division, in an interview. He went on to say that the upcoming revolution of automobiles is akin to how information technology transformed phones into smartphones.

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida suggested for the first time this month, while announcing the creation of that new mobility unit at the CES technology tech fair in Las Vegas, 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 recognise that speed is vital when making a choice,” said Kawanishi, who joined Sony as a software developer in 1986 and now runs the AI Robotics team that produces Sony’s Aibo robot companion.

Kawanishi declined to comment on whether a final decision on whether to proceed will be made this year.

So far, Sony has produced two EV “Vision” prototypes with a plant in Austria operated by Canadian auto parts company Magna International, which also manufactures automobiles for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota Motor Corp.

Other participants in its European effort include the German car parts manufacturer Bosch, the French automotive technology business Valeo SE, and the Hungarian autonomous vehicle start-up AImotive.

Sony would almost certainly need to invest considerably in plant and equipment to bring an EV to market. Tesla Inc, which delivered its first electric vehicle in 2008, has invested billions of dollars to ensure the viability of its business.

Sony will also have to compete with major automakers such as Toyota, General Motors Co, and Volkswagen AG, who are investing tens of billions of dollars to compete with the EV entrants.

Sony is one of a rising number of technology companies looking at automotive potential, including iPhone manufacturer Apple Inc, LG Electronics of South Korea, Foxconn of Taiwan, and Alibaba Group of China.

When asked if Sony will cooperate with Chinese firms, Kawanishi responded that Sony would choose new partners for its EV project based on the technology they can provide to the project, not their nationality.

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