Sono Motors presented the second prototype of its solar car named Sion, which now includes parts of the future production car. It sports a new body and a revised infotainment system. Concrete data related to solar solar operation were also announced.
When the sketches of the Sion project were presented by the very young start-up Sono Motors in September 2016, the idea of an electric car that could recover several tens of kilometers of range thanks to solar panels on its body seemed ambitious, even a little utopian.
However, it reached 5,000 orders thanks to a participatory system when it was presented in August 2018. And in a context where electric cars were starting to see their sales take off, the project already appeared much more realistic.
After coming close to bankruptcy at the end of 2019, the start-up welcomed many investors who relaunched the project and its development. On the occasion of the all-digital edition of CES in Las Vegas, Sono Motors took the opportunity to present the new generation of its Sion.
The slightly evolved design now comes close to what the production car will be, and the chassis, powertrain and control unit are also final. Unlike the first prototype, the car is equipped with solar panels on all body parts, flat or not. This represents a total of 248 photovoltaic cells.
An affordable solar car
Desired as an affordable solar car, the Sion does not sacrifice its performance, with a 120 kW motor that develops 270 Nm of torque. Top speed is limited to 140 km / h, and the advertised range is similar to that expected since the first prototype.
Indeed, Sono Motors expects 255 kilometers of range for the model with however reassuring precision, since this figure is according to the WLTP cycle, and not according to the old NEDC cycle. And Sono promises that the Zion will cost less in electricity than its ‘zero-emission’ counterparts, thanks to its solar panels.
The 35 kWh battery and the photovoltaic system allow the German to travel up to 33 kilometers per day using solar energy, which can help limit recharging for daily use between home and work . The car can obviously be recharged in the classic way, with a charging time of 30 minutes on a fast terminal, but also recover the energy of another electric car.
Inside, this prototype also marks a big evolution, with the presentation of a revised dashboard, and the integration of a near-definitive infotainment system. The added options allow for highly developed data on solar energy and incorporate air conditioning, while the car can be opened without a key, and the tailgate opened electrically. The atmosphere inside remains very organic, with vegetal trim on the dashboard, and recycled materials.
Start of production in 2022
As the solar car market is still very limited, this Sion should not have competition for several years. Introduced last year, the Lightyear One solar sedan is sure to sell for four or five times the price.
The Sono Sion is announced at 25,500 euros by Thomas Hausch, the executive director of the brand, who made the presentation. The Lightyear One should blithely exceed 100,000 euros when it arrives on the market, which could also be later than that of the Sion.
However, the Sion is not yet ready to hit the market either, as production is expected from 2022 by Sono Motors. In addition, the brand wants to raise funds to bring together the missing 200 million euros to launch industrial mass production.
Note that the Sion will be manufactured in the Swedish factory belonging to its partner NEVS. It was Saab who used this infrastructure before it disappeared, and the factory has been completely renovated so that it is now powered only by renewable energy.