Sono Motors is going places, thanks to the power of solar energy. The Munich-based automaker announced this week plans to enter the Dutch market and hold around 3,500 test drives over 37 event days. The goal is to demonstrate the Sion, an electric car that uses solar panels to move even further on a single charge.
The Sion has impressive specs to back up its claims. It’s a five-seater, five-door car with an 80 kilowatt motor that can hit speeds of up to 87 mph, with an optional trailer hitch supporting up to 1,654 pounds. It uses 330 integrated solar cells to generate 1,208 watts at its peak with 24 percent efficiency. That’s enough energy to provide 18.6 miles worth of charge per day. Unlike most solar cells that use heavy and break-prone glass, the Sion uses polycarbonate with similar transparency index.
The 35-45 kilowatt-hour battery stores enough energy to move 155 miles per charge, meaning these panels will add extra distance once the car is unplugged and takes off for the day. The company claims these figures are the real range, rather than unrealistic NEDC figures.
“We passed the 5,000 reservations mark in June, thereby wrapping up a crucial phase,” Laurin Hahn, CEO and one of the founders of Sono Motors, said in a statement. “This tour is our way of catering to the overwhelming demand for test drives. We will therefore be offering additional test drives in our core market of Germany again on our way to the Netherlands. The Netherlands itself is a very interesting market for us as it is considered a pioneer in the field of electromobility. We therefore believe there is a great deal of potential for an electric car like the Sion and we look forward to entering the market.”
Sono was started by two friends back in 2016, and it’s now developing its first electric car. The first prototypes hit the road in 2017, and the plan is for the car to enter series production in 2019.
The team is joining a crowded market, with the likes of Tesla and Lucid Air also bringing a startup mindset to the electric vehicle market. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has dismissed the idea of placing solar panels on the car, as the range addition is minimal compared to the extra costs and manufacturing difficulties. The ]Karma Revero luxury hybrid vehicle](https://www.inverse.com/article/22698-solar-panels-moving-from-rooftops-to-cars), for example, only get an extra mile and a half from its solar panel. Sono may have cracked a puzzle that even stumped Musk.
The car has a number of unique features that set it apart. Perhaps taking the “green movement” to the extreme, the air filter uses moss inside the dashboard and center console to filter 20 percent of fine dust particles. The company claims it requires no care and can be used for several years. The moss is situated below a more conventional 10-inch information screen.
The car offers support for three connector types. It offers type 2 charging at 11 kilowatts, quick charge CCS at 50 kilowatts, and household plugs at 2.6 kilowatts. A household charge will take around 13 hours, a regular charging station should charge to 80 percent in two-and-a-half hours and 100 percent in three-and-a-half hours, and a quick charging station should charge to 80 percent in just 30 minutes.
The car can even supply electricity to a household in reverse, using the fast-charging plug to provide up to 22 kilowatts of energy. With a 35 kilowatt-hour car battery and a daily consumption of five kilowatt-hours, the car can supply a house with power for seven days.
The Sono is priced at €16,000 ($18,128), plus the price of the battery. This is expected to cost €4,000 ($4,532) for a one-off fee, or customers can sign up for monthly financing or leasing. The company claims the battery price is separate as the cost of batteries is regularly falling, so it works out better for the customer.
The team plans to host 3,500 test drives over the following dates:
Fürth (1–2 September 2018), Darmstadt (3–4 September 2018), Siegburg (Bonn) (5–6 September 2018), Maastricht (7–8 September 2018), Eindhoven (9–10 September 2018), Delft (11–12 September 2018), Almere (13–14 September 2018), Groningen (15–16 September 2018), Hengelo (19–20 September 2018), Detmold (21–22 September 2018), Hildesheim (23–24 September2018), Göttingen (25–26 September2018), Fulda (27–28 September 2018), Heilbronn (29–30 September 2018), Memmingen (3–4 October 2018), Weilheim / eRUDA (5 October 2018), Passau (9–11 October 2018) and Munich (13 October 2018).