Sono Motors announced its solar car prototype this week, with deliveries planned as soon as 2019.
Munich-based Sono Motors has unveiled the Sion, an electric car with integrated solar cells, which promises a range of approximately 120 miles on a single charge. The 30 kWh battery already gives the Sion at least 100 miles and technically makes it an assisted EV – so far, so ordinary.
Yet, the Sion also has 330 solar cells built into its body, purported to generate enough electricity to add an extra 18 miles of driving range per day.
According to the company’s website, viSono, the Sion’s integrated solar system, is comprised of monocrystalline silicon cells arranged into modular unit. The panels are covered in a protective polycarbonate coating which makes them shatterproof, lightweight, and weather resistant. The system can produce a maximum of 1,208 Watts of power which will charge the car’s battery directly.
Successfully integrating solar cells into vehicles has long been a goal for the sustainable transport sector. However, the practical problems of doing so has long held back commercial prospects. Indeed, Sono itself stresses that the system has limitations, depending on real-life circumstances, that will likely prevent the car from achieving much more range from solar alone.
The Sion does boast some other interesting features. It can reach 80% charge in under 40 minutes and should be capable of accepting power from household and super charger outlets. It also promises bi-directional charging which allows a user to draw energy from the Sion to power another device or even an EV battery. The car has a special breSono system that uses moss to filter air and regulates humidity. Despite its small size, it seems that the Sion can produce a reasonable amount of towing power and can manage weights of up to 750kg. perhaps the most exciting feature, however, is the promise that a user should be able to fix their car if it develops issues.
Sono Motors came about as a result of a very successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, last year, and the consumer/user-centric approach seems to be particularly popular. Over 1,000 pre-orders have already been taken, which has probably been boosted by the relatively low cost of €16,000. Customers will need to purchase the €4,000 battery additionally but have the option do this via a monthly lease system or to buy outright. The company team managed to raise over €600,000 to put towards development, prototypes, and test drives. It initially planned to offer two models, the Urban and the Extender, but decided to focus on the latter after concerns were raised over the Urban’s limited range.
However, one must remember that the car’s electric specifications are not particularly superior and would not stand up against more established and developed EVs. It begs the question as to whether, or not, the solar cells are more of a gimmick than a useful addition. Yet, Sono Motors has clearly thought about how to create a zero-emissions car that takes on the desires of car buyers and goes beyond what’s already on the market. The Sion is attractive, operational, affordable, better for the environment, and sustainable for the modern user. Rival EV start-ups should take note.