Hardly any other project in electric car development has been reported over so many years as the announced solar car from Sono Motors in Munich. It all started with many promises for a completely newly designed and cost-effective solar electric car. Over the last few years, people have gradually said goodbye to the inexpensive electric car for the city. Now, after more than six years of development work, the financing of production is also being put to the test. A look back and into the future after saying goodbye to the Sion.
The established manufacturers have already jumped into the gap of the inexpensive BEV with the Twingo Electric, the e.GO Life or the Dacia Spring including environmental bonus. And even below these very simple electric cars, there is already an even simpler and city-friendly alternative with the Citroen Ami, which can be leased for the cost of a monthly bus pass. In this respect, the future strategy for the Munich startup has changed massively in recent years.
The global players in the automotive industry have long since declared the market for emission-free cars to be their own core competency. After all, Munich's self-confidence at Sono Motors has not suffered in recent years. The "Mia-san-mia" well-known by the footballers is continuously underpinned by new press releases and Facebook postings. All actors talk about the new solar car in promising and elaborately produced video spots. This can only be realized with a new dress made of solar panels on the entire car. This is not really new, but is already being integrated by other manufacturers on sensible surfaces such as the car roof (Toyota). Sono Motors is sticking to plans for solar panels covering the entire surface of the car. This costs development time and money, which is then also reflected in the price. For this process, completely new machine tools and manufacturing processes have to be developed to series maturity.
Focusing on the solar car
A look at the ongoing changes is also reflected in the use of new components. While people were initially optimistic about starting with a compact battery and low production costs, the purchase price has now increased to 28.500 euros with all updates. This is already priced at the level of competing models such as the Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf (without the environmental bonus). According to the manufacturer, you also get a modern battery with a capacity of 54 kWh and solar integration with the promise of being able to charge the battery while it is standing in the sun. But that will not happen in the urban canyons, nor in the multi-storey car parks, carports or garages. The reduction to one color and one equipment variant excludes from the outset many groups of buyers who prefer greater individualization when buying a new car.
If you look at the updated status of the SVC3 component release on the Sono Motors website (03/2022), suppliers for the chassis, exterior or interior have not even been defined for many components. The definitive start of series production in 2023 has not yet been communicated by Sono Motors due to the uncertain supplier situation. The Munich start-up is working hard on series production of the 4,50 meter long Sion with solar panels. The 120 kW (163 hp) electric motor comes from Continental, and the battery pack has a competitive capacity of 54 kWh. According to the manufacturer, the range with a fully charged battery is up to 305 kilometers, which can be further increased by charging with solar energy: the 250 solar cells should enable up to 35 kilometers a day under optimal conditions. On average, there should be an additional 16 kilometers. The charging at the fast charging station should take about 30 minutes to 80 percent of the battery level. With the bidirectional charger, the Sion can be used flexibly for electrical devices or vehicles.
The Last Anchor
Death or gladioli - the original of the saying comes from a four-day folk hike that takes place annually in the third week of July in Nijmegen. At the finish, the successful participants are presented with gladioli (sword flowers). The quote became known in Germany through the former Bayern coach van Gaal. The coming days will probably be decisive for the "Sion" project by Sono Motors from Munich. According to the manufacturer, there are already thousands of pre-orders. A environmental Bonus cannot be granted when buying a new car.
That's why you're not only far behind the competition when buying a new machine, but also when it comes to realizing a durable production line. The last lifeline is now being ejected. In addition to the previous orders, a further 3.500 pre-orders are to be placed in the next 50 days (as of December 08.12.2022th, XNUMX). The manufacturer now also admits that if this campaign fails, the entire Sion project will be withdrawn from this ambitious project. "Should we not be able to complete the campaign successfully, we plan to focus on our attractive B2B solar business, which is significantly less capital intensive. "(Quote from the press release of 08.12.2022)
#Update 26.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX - Now this failed campaign has been extended again until February 28.02.2023, XNUMX without concrete information on the realization of the project. In a video it is only pointed out to place further pre-orders and there should be further discussions with potential investors. Except for the members of the community, the concept currently finds little acceptance.
Update 24.02.2023/24.02.2023/XNUMX - In a press release it was announced today that the Sion project would be completely discontinued and the company would focus entirely on equipping vehicles from other automobile manufacturers. Concrete projects have already been verified in the press release: "Sono Motors is currently working as a development partner and supplier with companies in ten markets in Europe, Asia and the USA, including Mitsubishi Europe, CHEREAU and the two Volkswagen subsidiaries Scania and MAN Truck & Bus. In the future, Sono Motors intends to focus specifically on buses and cars from other OEMs." ( PM Sono Motors of XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX )
Double trouble for those who pre-order
For all pre-orders there are now two disappointments. The car cannot be delivered and the deposits already paid will not be refunded immediately but repaid in three installments by 2025. On the other hand, a video on the website explains in detail how you can very quickly forgo part of your repayment using the online form. Obviously, Sono Motors relies on a generous waiver of the down payments listed. This will ensure further discussion in the community.
Update May 15 – Application for the protective shield procedure filed
Since May 15, 2023, the repayment of the advance payments has depended on whether the Munich District Court approves the application for the order for protective shield proceedings. A financing of the repayments has not been realized in the last few weeks. Should this application fail, Sono Motors' future plans are obviously no longer feasible.
"On May 15, 2023, Sono Motors GmbH filed an application with the competent district court in Munich to order protective shield proceedings. Business operations will continue as part of the protective shield process.” (Excerpt from Sono Motors’ press release dated May 15, 2023)
With the development of the solar car, some formative unique selling points have emerged in recent years. The not very flexible concept with a solar surface, a single color and one equipment variant only aroused the interest of a manageable community. This year in particular, the competition is already much better positioned in this vehicle segment. And below the segment in the light truck category, the next big trend is already developing in the coming year. With the end of the Sion, Sono Motors starts concentrating on the core business of the future: suppliers of solar integration in third-party vehicles. But this plan is now hanging by a thread.
Cover Photo - Sono Sion Prototype - Copyright Sono Motors
What chances do you give the new Sion from Sono Motors?