There was a hubbub across the water cooler right here at CleanTechnica world headquarters 5 years in the past when Sono Motors — a German crowdfunded startup that promised to convey a photo voltaic powered electrical automotive known as the Sion to market — introduced its first prototype could be unveiled on July 27, 2017. It was an reasonably priced electrical automotive with photo voltaic panels embedded within the hood, roof, and hatchback however that wasn’t the one innovation the Sion promised.
Not like the ultra-pricey HEPA filter within the Tesla Mannequin X, the Sion’s air filtration system relied on moss to take away undesirable pollution and odors from the air. The seats all folded collectively or individually to permit individuals to lug all kinds of stuff round or there was room for six passengers when wanted. Two variations had been deliberate. The City could be geared up with a 14.4 kWh battery, have a spread of about 75 miles and value $13,200. The Extender model could be geared up with a 30 kWh battery, have a spread of 155 miles and value $17,600.
Neither value included the battery. Prospects may both purchase it or lease it the best way Renault Twingo house owners did. It must be famous that Renault later dropped the battery leasing concept, however Vinfast is now considering the same gross sales technique.
Sono Motors Historical past
Sono Motors was based by Laurin Hahn, Navina Pernsteiner, and Jona Christians in Karben, Hesse, in January 2016. The trio mentioned their mission was to “considerably scale back the misuse of worthwhile and finite assets — similar to oil, as a result of oil is a crucial fossil, non-renewable uncooked materials. Nonetheless, over 61% of the world’s oil reserves are consumed for transport. This produces 128 million tons of CO2 yearly. Even when the extinction of the sources is delayed by new supply strategies, in the long run, there isn’t a future for autos with inner combustion engines. Our future is sustainable mobility.”
Within the yr it was based, Sono Motors secured funding for 2 purposeful prototypes thanks to 2 crowdfunding campaigns — €549,995 from 1,686 backers on the web platform Indiegogo and €1.8 million on Seedrs. The yr after the prototype was revealed, the corporate took the Sion on a European tour of 42 cities in 10 international locations to generate some buzz concerning the automotive and get suggestions from potential clients about what they appreciated and didn’t like concerning the automotive.
The Sion Dream Is No Extra
Nonetheless, regardless of all the guarantees and help from the general public, the truth of getting a brand new automotive into manufacturing has triggered the Sono Motors Sion dream to crash.
In a weblog put up on February 24, 2023, co-founder Laurin Hahn introduced the termination of this system.
“Sono Motors will pivot to a purely photo voltaic tech firm and we’ve terminated the Sion program. We’re extraordinarily saddened that we’ve terminated the Sion program so near bringing it to the streets. We’re nonetheless absolutely dedicated to creating an actual distinction in mobility and making each car photo voltaic. Due to this fact we’ve made the choice to proceed with our photo voltaic B2B enterprise. This was a really troublesome resolution, as you may think about, and we don’t take it flippantly.
“Regardless of greater than 45,000 reservations and pre-orders for the Sion, we had been compelled to react to the continuing monetary market instability and streamline our enterprise. Given additionally the useful resource intensive nature of the Sion program, together with personnel necessities, we are actually implementing a big value discount program. This contains the redundancy of roughly 300 staff. This isn’t a choice we take flippantly and we’re extremely grateful for his or her laborious work and dedication to Sono Motors.”
There are a couple of coincidences right here that bear referring to. The Sion was scheduled to be manufactured by Valmet, a Finnish specialty producer that was as soon as a part of the Saab group. It was additionally deeply concerned with Lightyear, the opposite photo voltaic automotive firm that just lately went stomach up just lately largely because of the turbulence in monetary markets taking place worldwide right now. Lightyear says it’s now targeted on a cheaper ($40,000) mannequin. As of final week, the corporate says it’s exiting chapter proceedings and looking out ahead to the beginning of manufacturing. We’ll see.
What’s Subsequent For Sono Motors?
As we’ve reported beforehand, Sono Motors has been deeply concerned in bringing its automotive photo voltaic panel know-how to bigger autos similar to tractor trailers and buses which are powered in entire or partly by electrical energy. The merciless actuality is that the Sion was simply too small to have the ability to produce a big quantity of electrical energy, particularly if the vehicles had been parked indoors a part of the day. However massive business autos are out within the sunshine all day day-after-day and so are higher candidates for solar energy.
“We are going to pivot our enterprise mannequin to solely retrofitting and integrating our photo voltaic know-how onto third occasion autos,” the corporate says. “This marks a big subsequent step in Sono Motors’ enterprise improvement. Our know-how is already in utility right now, with 23 B2B clients throughout Europe, Asia, and the US piloting our built-in photo voltaic know-how on quite a lot of car architectures, together with third-party OEM vehicles, buses, refrigerated autos, and recreation autos.”
Sono Motors has launched into a trial program to reveal how photo voltaic panels on cargo vans and trailers might help decrease working prices and scale back carbon emissions from business transportation. We don’t suppose a lot about it, however a variety of the merchandise shipped by truck are refrigerated and people fridges are powered virtually solely by diesel engines. Even when solar energy gained’t assist a truck transfer down the freeway, it will probably remove the necessity for these diesel AC models and save about 5000 liters of diesel gasoline a yr per truck or trailer.
“Our income producing photo voltaic enterprise has been going from energy to energy and we’re at present already working as a development-partner and provider with firms throughout ten international locations in Europe, Asia, and the US,” Hahn says in his weblog put up.
“Prospects embody Mitsubishi Europe, CHEREAU, and two Volkswagen subsidiaries — Scania and MAN Truck & Bus. Going ahead, we intend to focus particularly on buses and third-party OEM vehicles, and can now scale up our know-how. We are going to begin with the introduction of the following technology of our mass-market prepared retrofit answer for cleaner public transportation — the ‘Photo voltaic Bus Equipment’ — deliberate for the second quarter of 2023. And as we’ll now solely concentrate on photo voltaic know-how, talks with potential buyers progress.
“The potential of our know-how has been validated not solely by our business partnerships but in addition by the European Union. In January, we secured €1.46 million in funding from the EU Fee’s European Local weather, Infrastructure and Atmosphere Govt Company (“CINEA”) to advance the event of the Firm’s proprietary photo voltaic know-how. We had additionally introduced 52 patents granted or filed.
“This transfer means we will proceed our mission of ‘photo voltaic on each car’ and supply options that may profit the lives of on a regular basis individuals world wide, by lowering greenhouse emissions. The time for this mission is now, and our know-how is able to implement it. This isn’t the top. The longer term is photo voltaic. For a world with out fossil fuels.”
We want Hahn and his workforce each success. The distinction between the intense promise of latest know-how and the true world the place business success hangs by a really skinny thread is stark. Sono Motors has its work lower out for it. They’re going to want all of the luck they will discover to succeed.
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