Sono’s Sion Photo voltaic Automobile Fights For Survival



CleanTechnica has been masking the Sono Sion for years. We’ve interviewed firm officers, lined the reveal of the automotive, and adopted the corporate because it labored its method from growth to manufacturing. However, now we’re unhappy to report that the corporate is in a battle for its life because it tries to convey its tackle a solar-powered automobile to market.

The Sion Car

For these unfamiliar, the Sono Sion goes to be a solar-charged EV, sort of just like the Aptera. However, in contrast to the Aptera, it has a way more standard hatchback form.

The 2018 Nissan Sion EV is sort of just like the favored LEAF. It maintains a 5-seater hatchback with 35 kWh and 400-volt battery pack that yields 120 kW energy and barely much less torque, whereas projecting an estimated vary of 150 miles like its fellow electrical automotive. The one main variance on this automobile nonetheless is its rear-wheel drive setup, which is able to alter driving dynamics however in the end have little or no sensible impact for many drivers.

With the 50kW CCS plug and 11kW Sort 2 AC charger, refueling your automotive in Europe is fast and simple. Recharge to 80% on DCFC inside half-hour or with a speedy 4-5 hour AC cost!

For the Sion, Solon Motors opted for just one shade possibility — black. This helped in preserving manufacturing prices low and was favored by preorder clients when offered with a ballot. Though this would possibly look plain at first look, it’s really fairly intelligent as to not draw consideration away from the photo voltaic panels. Plus, you possibly can be taught extra about their paint selection from CleanTechnica’s 2018 interview with co-founder and CEO Laurin Hahn (video right here).

The Sion could also be a typical low-end EV, nevertheless it’s the particular options that make it shine.

The obvious function of the automotive is its built-in solar energy charging system. Each obtainable floor from the three sunroofs to the doorways and hatchback have been fitted with photo voltaic cells, permitting for 19 miles or 1.2 kW price of cost per day — equal to a US Stage 1 charger — when situations are optimum.

When the solar is out, you’re all set. The cells will even decide up power in shaded areas or on cloudy days! From begin to end, your automobile is constantly equipped with energy — there’s no want for extra setup and it will probably act like a light vary extender throughout longer drives.

Sion’s 2019 estimates for the vary added day by day from photo voltaic are contained on this graph:

The automobile additionally has bidirectional charging, which they’d deliberate to be obtainable by way of an app. If you happen to’ve received additional juice and are keen to promote it to different drivers, you possibly can go away it obtainable on the app for a charging session with out you having to be there. It can even have a hitch put in from the manufacturing facility, with a rated 1500 kilos of towing capability (crucial for European clients).

Sono Had Hassle Attracting Buyers in 2019

Later that 12 months, we had various readers ship us hyperlinks to information that the corporate was in some bother. Whereas progressive clear know-how would possibly impress CleanTechnica readers and geeks like us in every single place, the funding group tends to be much more cautious.

We weren’t given any extra particulars on what occurred, however apparently the inventors and potential buyers couldn’t see eye to eye. Sion stated that buyers would possibly take the corporate aside and take the applied sciences away with out ever constructing a automotive, however there’s a superb likelihood that buyers simply thought {that a} photo voltaic automotive wasn’t well worth the danger. We don’t know for positive, however both method, the corporate went to clients for more cash as a substitute of attempting to do one thing totally different to impress buyers.

Sono Survived 3 Extra Years & Produced A Higher Manufacturing Car

Whereas a complete guide might most likely be written in regards to the growth course of, one that is apparent: the corporate survived no matter issues it was having in 2019 and continued the event and testing course of. Vehicles ended up everywhere in the world for assessments, they usually determined to increase gross sales to the US.

Just a few months in the past, CleanTechnica had an opportunity to see one in particular person, with our personal Tina Casey concluding that the Sion is price ready for.

The Firm Wants Extra Cash


As of this writing, if you happen to go to Sono Motors’ web site, you’ll discover that the state of affairs is pretty self-explanatory. To save lots of the Sion, Sono must have 3,500 individuals pay in full for his or her automobile. And, they should accomplish this by late January. As of this writing, they’ve received about 25 days left, they usually’ve gotten about 1/3 of the best way there.

One other web page on the corporate’s web site explains the state of affairs extra absolutely:

“We failed to boost sufficient cash. We failed to elucidate to buyers why the Sion is actually wanted and that there’s a enormous demand for it. To make issues worse, we live via a number of international crises, inflicting most buyers to keep away from taking dangers and look towards extra mature corporations. They’re telling us to not construct the automotive, to restructure the corporate, and to put off 70% of our individuals. To refund the Neighborhood and to ignore the Sion and our reservation holders. However, for us, this merely can’t be an possibility. Not with out giving our Neighborhood the possibility to make a transfer. That’s why we kicked-off this marketing campaign. We’re dedicated to #savesion. What about you?”

Sono goes on to elucidate that when it reaches its marketing campaign purpose and generate sufficient capital, it is going to create a constructive ripple impact. Buyer funding of each cash and belief in them is the cornerstone that drives this mission ahead; enabling it to seek out new buyers in addition to cowl all equipment, tooling, and manufacturing bills vital for pre-series manufacturing by 2023 with high-volume begin of manufacturing following in 2024.

The corporate explains additional that the cash initially retains the corporate afloat, but additionally proves to future buyers that the corporate is price investing cash in once they go for full manufacturing later.

It’s price noting that Sono isn’t the one photo voltaic automobile firm going through investor skepticism proper now. Aptera, with its decidedly much less standard design, can also be scrambling for each sort of funding it will probably get proper now to achieve manufacturing.

At this level, it’s fairly clear that photo voltaic automobile know-how has arrived, however whether or not it is going to develop into mainstream and even go into manufacturing is the massive query for 2023.


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