Would you buy a car fueled by the sun? German start-up Sono Motors reveals the £21k electric Sion, which is clad in solar panels to increase the weekly driving range by 70 miles.
German start-up Sono Motors has unveiled its production-ready solar-electric hatchback and claims to have received over 19,000 orders.
The Sion was unveiled last week in Munich during the brand’s ‘Celebrate the Sun’ community event.
Approximately 456 solar ‘half-cells’ cover nearly the entirety of the car’s exterior to create enough renewable energy to extend the Sion’s anticipated 190-mile battery range by 70 miles each week.
It is expected that the passenger vehicle will be on sale in Germany next year for a price of approximately €25,000, or approximately £21,000, undercutting most conventional electric vehicles now on the market.
Would you purchase a solar-powered vehicle? This is the Sono Motors Sion, which may become the first mass-produced passenger vehicle with solar panels covering its entire body.
Sion: The Solar Powered Car
Sono Motors claims that the Sion will be a “cheap and dependable SEV [Solar Electric Vehicle] for the public.”
On the basis of the quoted price of €25,126 (£20,979 at the current currency rate), it would be the cheapest electric vehicle on the UK market, undercutting even the little Fiat 500, which starts at almost £24,000.
The vehicle has been under development since 2017, with the business claiming that the final production design seen here features “significant upgrades” not seen on any of the preceding models.
This incorporates fewer lines and smoother surfaces as well as redesigned headlamps, rear light clusters, and door handles for a more streamlined appearance.
A camera is also put on the trunk lid, presumably to display a rearview while reversing, and there is a new charging ‘lid’ up front, which is a panel that flips up from the bottom of the bonnet.
With the exception of the front and rear bumpers, every exterior panel of the vehicle is equipped with solar cells, with the roof completely covered with cells to capture the most sunlight.
The fledgling automaker has also made changes to the interior to make it feel more spacious and to increase storage space.
The front seats and rear bench of the production-ready model displayed last week are new, as is the shape of the steering wheel.
The minimalist dashboard features two tablet-style displays for the instrument cluster and the infotainment system.
Lower on the dashboard is a third display strip that resembles a light beam but may display other visuals, such as a forest or lava lamp-like array.
On the centre console are only two buttons: one for the hazard warning lights and the other likely for starting and stopping the vehicle.
Moss is built into the dashboard of the Sion to organically filter out dust particles and control the cabin’s humidity.
The manufacturer claims that the trim and interior surfaces will be available in a variety of hues; however, the exterior colour options may be more limited due to the bodywork’s sun-absorbing panels.
The automaker claims that these solar panels will “allow independence on short journeys.”
The 54kWh battery should deliver a total range of 190 kilometres. The additional energy collected by the panels when the vehicle is parked outdoors or being driven should provide approximately 70 miles of range per week, bringing the weekly average to 152 miles.
The sun-generated energy can also be sold back to the grid, as the vehicle supports bidirectional charging.
This means that the vehicle can operate as a “sustainable engine on wheels” to power your electronic devices, or can send green energy back to the grid at peak times when the vehicle is not in use, allowing the owner to earn additional income.
Sono Motors predicts that, based on the average commuter travel in German cities, the Sion will require four times less charging than a conventional electric vehicle of the same vehicle class and battery size.
The battery has a maximum charging capability of 75kW when using a DC charger and 11kW when only AC charging is available.
According to the manufacturer, the vehicle is currently undergoing road tests and, in the coming months, will be subjected to “uncompromising practical tests under difficult conditions in both Europe and the United States.”
This includes crash tests to guarantee that the vehicle is suitable for sale in all countries, as well as testing in various climates to optimise solar technology and ensure its safety in harsh situations.
A comprehensive test programme on the racetrack and on public roads will also help to improve the driving dynamics of the vehicle.
According to the manufacturer, the Sion has attracted considerable interest. As of 1 July 2022, the company has over 19,000 “active private bookings” for the vehicle.
It is claimed that these consumers have paid an average deposit of €2,225, or around $1,850, to reserve a constructed slot.
If all reservations are converted into sales, the startup stands to sell €415 million (£347 million) worth of automobiles.
‘At an estimated net sales price point of just €25,126, the Sion is anticipated to have one of the lowest TCOs (total cost of ownership) in the medium-size segment due to the solar technology,’ the business stated.
Under a collaboration agreement with Valmet Automotive, production is planned to begin in Finland in the second half of 2023, with German customers receiving the first vehicles off the assembly line.
Sono Motors, which was established in 2016, plans to create around 257,000 Sion vehicles throughout the next seven years.