Automotive

PV panel-packed family EV goes up for pre-order

The Sono Motors Sion family EV is up for pre-order for €16,000
The Sono Motors Sion family EV is up for pre-order for €16,000
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The Sono Motors Sion family EV is up for pre-order for €16,000
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The Sono Motors Sion family EV is up for pre-order for €16,000
The Sion's hood, sides, rear and transparent roof have a total of 330 mono crystalline PV panels mounted under polycarbonate
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The Sion's hood, sides, rear and transparent roof have a total of 330 mono crystalline PV panels mounted under polycarbonate
Sono reckons that, in favorable conditions, the Sion's photovoltaic panels should manage 30 km of range per day, with drivers needing to plug in to achieve the quoted 250 km of overall range
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Sono reckons that, in favorable conditions, the Sion's photovoltaic panels should manage 30 km of range per day, with drivers needing to plug in to achieve the quoted 250 km of overall range
The Sion's 80 kW electric motor with single speed transmission are said to be good for a top speed of 140 km/h
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The Sion's 80 kW electric motor with single speed transmission are said to be good for a top speed of 140 km/h
The Sion's interior features a 10-inch infotainment system and an air filtration system that uses moss to remove dust particles
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The Sion's interior features a 10-inch infotainment system and an air filtration system that uses moss to remove dust particles
The Sono Motors Sion family EV is up for pre-order for €16,000
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The Sono Motors Sion family EV is up for pre-order for €16,000
The Sion's hood, sides, rear and transparent roof have a total of 330 mono crystalline PV panels mounted under polycarbonate
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The Sion's hood, sides, rear and transparent roof have a total of 330 mono crystalline PV panels mounted under polycarbonate
The Sion launch event on the evening of July 27
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The Sion launch event on the evening of July 27
Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians of Sono Motors at the Sion launch event on July 27
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Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians of Sono Motors at the Sion launch event on July 27
Laurin Hahn introduces the Sono Motors Sion electric car at a launch event on July 27
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Laurin Hahn introduces the Sono Motors Sion electric car at a launch event on July 27
Ready to roll: The Sono Motors Sion electric car with integrated photovoltaic panels
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Ready to roll: The Sono Motors Sion electric car with integrated photovoltaic panels
The Sion's 80 kW electric motor with single speed transmission are said to be good for a top speed of 140 km/h
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The Sion's 80 kW electric motor with single speed transmission are said to be good for a top speed of 140 km/h

Last year, German startup Sono Motors embarked on a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding effort to get its electric family commuter into production. The Sion design included 7.5 square meters of photovoltaic panels integrated into the outer skin to charge the batteries while the electric car sat around waiting for someone to drive it. The final pre-production design was revealed in April, and the Sion went up for pre-order a few hours ago.

The Sion has 330 mono crystalline PV cells from SunPower (3.65 W each) on the hood, doors, rear and transparent roof to help top up the Li-ion batteries while the vehicle is on the move, or sat in an open air car park or driveway. Harvesting the sun's rays won't be enough to power the car on solar power alone, but the company does claim that the Sion's PV system could manage around 30 km (20 mi) per day in "favorable conditions."

Back in September, Sono did say that the system could peak at 65 km of solar-only range, but real world stats will likely vary considerably with everything from extended cloud cover to other road users casting a shadow on the panels affecting performance. But every little helps, right? Like other battery electrics, the remainder of the car's juicing needs will have to be met by plugging in. The Sion's overall range is given as 250 km (155 mi) per charge.

The five door family car's 80 kW three-phase asynchronous electric motor with single speed transmission is said to be good for a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph), which should be enough to satisfy the needs of most city dwellers and suburbanites.

Laurin Hahn introduces the Sono Motors Sion electric car at a launch event on July 27
Laurin Hahn introduces the Sono Motors Sion electric car at a launch event on July 27

An interesting focal point of an otherwise simple interior is the air filtration system which makes use of moss to help remove dust from air in the cabin. Sono says that owners needn't worry about having to tend the moss, confirming that it's pretty much maintenance-free and should last for years before needing to be swapped out.

Other features include an infotainment system controlled by a 10-inch touchscreen, anti-lock brakes, passenger and driver airbags, regen braking and bidirectional charging technology. The latter allows for portable devices to run off of the Sion's battery, with the company saying that charge can even be shared with other electric vehicles should the need arise. An optional trailer hitch is reported capable of towing loads up to 750 kg (1,650 lb).

Sion owners will have the option to rent the battery after parting with €16,000 (US$18,700), or buy the whole car and battery pack package. Sono now needs 5,000 pre-order commitments to go into volume production and, if all goes well, manufacture will begin next year with the first deliveries starting in 2019.

Update July 29: Sono Motors has informed us that those who wish to buy the battery, rather than rent it, can do so for a one-off payment of "less than €4,000" plus the cost of the Sion. The battery rental cost will be determined closer to launch.

Source: Sono Motors

9 comments
watersworm
30km/20mi with energy collected from PV's would be a good surprise ! (except maybe in summer ?) What about "total" price including batteries ?
Tom Lee Mullins
I like the design. It seems electric vehicles are the future. It seems electric vehicles have come full circle. Before the electric starter, electric cars outnumbered gas powered (from what I have read). It seems one day electric vehicles will outnumber gas powered ones (especially in countries that are banning sales of gas powered ones in the not distant future).
Leonard Foster Jr
As a former paint and body guy, I wonder what fender benders will cost for this thing lol
antiguajohn98
Our island Antigua and Barbuda is about 12 miles across and we have no shortage of sunshine, which would make this a great car for us. Only one problem, down here we call a black car,"An oven on wheels", though I suspect it will be available in white. Scientia Non Domus, (Knowledge has No Home) antiguajohn
Spod
I had serious doubts about this when I first saw it, but a quick check of figures is in order. Most of the PVs will be facing the wrong way or not at the optimum angle for generation, so the 1200W total theoretical output of the array will be less than half that most of the time. Assuming 5 good sun-hours per day, then you may get 3kWh, which at 100Wh/km (very optimistic) might give you 30km on a flat, smooth road. So on a good sunny day, with a clean car and the car facing the right way (often not possible in carparks), you might get close to the claimed figures, in summer. But, for most of the year you won't get close to those figures. And let's not forget, to get that solar input, you have to leave the car outside during the day, out of any shade, so the car is going to be damned hot inside, all the time, requiring excessive use of air con to make it drivable, which will eat into that collected energy. Plus, leaving the car outside all day adds to deterioration due to weathering. There's a reason most people try to garage their cars. Overall, this is not a great idea, it makes a lot more sense to buy a regular small EV and put a 3-5kW array on your garage roof. Even if you drive the car to work and so can't charge from the array in the daytime, you get the benefit from the energy produced through feed-in tariffs or whatever. And, as Leonard Foster Jr mentioned, the panels on this thing will be unrepairable. No more knocking out small door dings and a quick colour match over the affected area, damage to door of bonnet panels will require complete replacement due to damaged PV cells and the fact that those embedded cells prevent you working on the metal beneath. It will cost a bundle to fix, if you can even find a crash shop that will touch it.
usugo
It seems a great idea, until you realize that a normal EV plus PVs on a house roof make more sense, and cheaper too!
Willibald
How could they mass produce it without a factory? Moss grows slowly - where will they get massive amounts of moss to put in all the cars? How do they want to legally sell it without a single crash test? Who would service it if there are no service centers? How is this better than any of the Chinese low-range cheap EVs?
Peter Kelly
Surely, given the less than optimum energy collection possible, the extra weight needed would make the whole system a user of energy, rather than make the car more efficient? There are far too many downsides to what sounds like a good idea for the first 10 seconds before you think about it.
Easy
Fender benders: Probably the most often used criticism of attempts to put solar cells on road cars in the past. Sion addressed it out of the gate; They say that the cost of manufacturing the (7 total I believe) body panels with the flex solar cells built into the poly material is about the same as buying the same body panel made from conventional steel, but without the solar option. (obviously) Ding a fender and replace it with a new fender costing the same as any fender. Parking these things is where they re-charge the most. Here in California, few parking lot owners understand the value of shade, it's hard to find. Parking lots should then have reflective surfaces, or a corner area with reflective vertical panels around it, anything to enhance the area's insolation. 20 miles per day isn't much but if you only drive every 2nd day (retirees etc..) then the car could generate enough power to run itself, or very close. I love it. In Palm Springs, you could just drive it, hardly having to 'plug-in' at all if you do about 100 miles per week.