German tech startup Sono Motors unveils Sion, the first solar-powered EV car for the masses for just $25,000
Tesla is the world’s largest electric automaker. But while Tesla dominates the headlines, one German tech startup is working on a new type of electric vehicle that will usher in a new era and forever change the way we look at electric vehicles.
Sono Motors is a Munich, Germany-based EV tech startup that is pioneering a new category of electric vehicles called Solar EV, or SEV. The startup is developing an electric solar car that’s partially powered by the sun. Dubbed Sono Sion, the solar car is covered with solar cells embedded in the plastic body panels on both the roof and the sides.
Early this month, the company debuted its flagship Sono Sion in New York City as part of its effort to explore demand for its among US customers. From a distance, the Sion looks like a hatchback. But when you get up close, its carefully-crafted solar panels can be clearly seen. The Sion dashboard app offers the driver information on the power status and when to charge. The dashboard also uses living moss as an air purifier.
Unlike Tesla, the Sion is fairly priced with a starting price of $25,000, which makes it significantly more affordable than other EVs on the market. Extra bells and whistles will set you back by a few thousand dollars. The Sion uses 465 integrated solar half-cells on its exterior to provide its power and it is expected to run for 70 miles a week on solar power alone.
The car is fitted with a lithium iron phosphate battery for customers that travel a long distance, giving it a total 190-mile range, with the ability to charge it to 80 percent in 35 minutes using a fast-charging station.
“We want to really be that holistic company who’s trying to have as minimal an impact on the environment as possible,” said Sono Motors co-founder Laurin Hahn, who prototyped an early version of the car in a garage with his childhood classmate Jona Christians 10 years ago in Munich.
For decades, countless inventors and engineers have tried to harness the power of the Sun. Thanks to advancements in photovoltaic cells, it’s now more affordable to use solar energy to generate electricity for your homes. The dream of using solar energy to power transportation continues to push the technology boundary in the automotive industry.
Sono Motors is aiming to launch its $25,000 five-seater hatchback in Europe first, with production starting in the second half of next year. The startup has also received orders from customers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland before the year is out. Sono plans to initial deliveries to customers before the end of the year.
Sono Motors is very ambitious. The startup plans to produce a total of 200,000 units of the solar electric car Sion through a contract manufacturer. So far, over 7,000 customers have reserved and placed a down payment of at least €500 for one of the vehicles, according to Sono’s COO Thomas Hausch.
Financing has been secured for “a long time”, according to the interview as well, to which three major investors have contributed since back in 2017, one of which is the Bollinger Group. The expenses are further kept low as Sono will not be investing in their own production facilities, operating direct sales to customers, and limiting the customization options to more essential features.
Sono SEV’s solar panels are made from a polymer-based solar technology that is still under development. Sono CEO Laurin Hahn explains, ″We have several patents, over 30 patents on that… And it’s a big difference because all other companies who try to integrate solar are using mostly glass. Glass is heavy, slow in production, and very cost expensive.”
Below is Sono in action.