Kana Inagaki:

The possibility of rolling out a Sony vehicle is also something that Kazuo Hirai is not ruling out, noting that the advent of electric cars has lowered entry barriers for new players.

“If we fundamentally believe at some point in time that we can make a difference in the automotive space, it’s something that we will look at,” Mr Hirai told the Financial Times.

“We don’t have plans at this point but never say never,” he added.

Technology companies are looking to tap into the rise of smart cars that are connected to the internet and use sensors to assist drivers. Google is working on a self-driving vehicle and Apple has embarked on an automotive project, eyeing vehicles as the “ultimate mobile device”.

Sony’s ambitions to expand its camera sensor sales from smartphones to cars and its aggressive foray into new sectors ranging from real estate to education have sparked questions about whether the Japanese group could also explore producing a car of its own.

“It’s just an extension of the status quo if Sony is looking to further grow its CMOS [complementary metal-oxide semiconductor] sensor and game businesses,” said Eiichi Katayama, head of Japan research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “But cars could potentially be a game changer.”

Sony’s technologies — including its lithium-ion battery business and artificial intelligence capability garnered from its robot-making days — would be advantages in the automotive space. The company’s rechargeable batteries are mainly used in smartphones, cameras and other electronic devices but Mr Hirai said cars could be another area to explore.