Management said the auto industry was on the brink of change.
Sony, inventor of the Walkman, and Honda, purveyors of the groundbreaking CVCC engine used in the original Civic, are uniting consumer electronics and passenger cars as automobiles become software-centric computers on wheels. We are pioneering new cross-cutting approaches.
For example, American tech giant Apple was considering entering the automotive sector and was even rumored to consider a partnership with Hyundai.
Chinese players are also becoming more and more ambitious. Baidu, which competes with Google in China, is working with BAIC Motor Co. to build and deploy fully electric crossover and robo-taxis vehicles. Telecommunications network juggernaut Huawei Technologies plans to invest $1 billion in EV development, while smartphone maker Xiaomi said it hopes to put $10 billion into manufacturing pure electric vehicles over the next decade. ing.
For automakers, such partnerships can help reduce development time and offer new services to customers, said Zhou Lei, partner at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting in Tokyo. For tech companies, new partnerships will unlock entirely new revenue streams in the mobility space.
“They want to create new business models,” Ray said. “While Japanese industry has traditionally been very vertical, this is a horizontal approach and a new example globally. We need a kind of venture.”
Sony said it’s adding a new twist to the automotive mix with a toolbox of digital tech and a library of media content courtesy of the company’s movies, music and video games division. We partnered with hit-maker Epic Games to create an on-the-go entertainment space that ‘seamlessly’ integrates ‘real and virtual worlds’.
The Afeela concept car was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas in January and was jam-packed with 45 cameras and other sensors. Sony will provide optical sensors for autonomous driving functions and time-of-flight sensors for driver monitoring systems. Kawanishi from Sony said the company is developing its first in-house lidar sensor for use in automobiles.
Partners have promised that Afeela will be capable of Level 3 autonomous driving right from the start.
To power all this digital gadget, Afeela’s midsize sedan will be equipped with a high-performance microprocessor set capable of performing 800 trillion operations per second from partner Qualcomm. By contrast, the chipsets in today’s cars typically process in the 10-50 trillion range per second.
“This is a very aggressive and advanced technology in the world of mobility,” Kawanishi said.
Mizuno said relying on Sony’s technology could cut new-vehicle development timelines by 20 to 30 percent compared to Honda’s traditional cycle.
— Carly Schaffner of Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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