Sono Sion Unveiled, World’s First Production Solar Car – Up To 18 Miles PV Added Range Per Day

2 weeks ago by Brandon Smoker 90

Sono Motors Sion – offering “Infinite Mobility”

Today Sono Motors unveiled its prototype electric and solar car, the worlds first series production bound solar powered car, with deliveries expected in 2019.

Sono Motors Sion – solar to add up to 18 miles of range in a single day

Integrated solar cells (330 to be exact) on the Sion’s body produce enough electricity to add around 18 miles of range per day in addition to the ~100 miles it has from plugging in its 30 kWh battery.

Although technically not completely a solar car (since by definition a solar car is significantly powered by solar) it’s about halfway there.

It all started with three young entrepreneurs from Munich who had a passion to see some changes toward sustainable mobility by becoming independent from oil. Laurin, Navina, and Jona spent three years developing, building, and testing a pre prototype of the Sion in Laurin’s garage.

Aiming to bring to market an affordable EV for all, last July they launched Sono Motors along with a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help raise needed funds for building a couple prototypes for show and test drives. The campaign was a big success with over €600,000 raised and more than 1,100 preorders.

Originally the Sion was going to be offered in two models, an Urban model priced at €12,000 with a 14.4 kWh battery giving a real world range of 50-60 miles, and an Extender model priced at €16,000 featuring a 30 kWh battery providing around 110-120 miles of real world range. But last week the decision was announced to only develop the Extender model and drop the Urban model due to weak demand because of its low range.

Another change from the original concept is that there will only be 5 seats instead of 6 in order to keep production costs low.

Inside the Sion

The price of €16,000 ($18,720 USD currently) does not include the price of the 30 kWh battery which will be offered as a monthly battery lease or an upfront battery purchase, estimated by Sono to be €4,000, which is $4,680 USD by today’s exchange rate.

330 Integrated Solar Cells to be on the Sion

Estimated final cost in USD is expected to be in the $23,000 range with production in 2019, and test drives next summer in the U.S.

Some notable features are it’s bi directional charging which can turn the car into a mobile power station with up to 2.7 kW output, a special moss for air filtration, and an optional 750 kg capacity trailer hitch (1654 lbs.)

Fast charging is supported, but no details are available yet.

Full details on the Sion can be read here. The Sion can be pre-ordered here, with discounts from 2% to 8% depending on the the amount put down.

Sion solar EV debuts!

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90 responses to "Sono Sion Unveiled, World’s First Production Solar Car – Up To 18 Miles PV Added Range Per Day"

  1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    Why does that look like a slightly bigger Th!nk EV?

    Neat little car.

  2. Rich says:

    In a word … “Cool”!

  3. Ken says:

    Great article Brandon! I love the european style hitch ball on the back. I hope it makes to the US.

    1. Brandon says:

      Thanks Ken! I hope the Sion makes it here too! Lots of hurdles I suppose. There’s gonna need a lot of investment too. But there are lots of people and companies very interested to see this car happen and help even financially.

  4. GRA says:

    Unlike most such proposals by people with more enthusiasm than knowledge about PV, if the solar collector area is large enough to average at least 10 miles/day worth of energy, this could actually be a viable solar-charged car for those with modest daily range needs, or which use the car intermittently.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      A bit short but if for a retired person in Phoenix, that could be.

      1. Brandon says:

        The actual data of how many kilometers are possible per day from the solar cells on the Sion was presented at its unveiling, and was shown on the screen. This is the typical amount of km added that they got with the Sion by month:

        Jan: 4
        Feb: 6
        March: 13
        April: 21
        May: 28
        June: 29
        July: 26
        August: 26
        Sept: 17
        Oct: 9
        Nov: 6
        Dec: 4

        Average per month is 15.75 km, which is a hair under 10 miles.
        10 miles times 365 (days in a year) is 3,650 miles per year. So around 3,600 solar powered miles per year can be expected from the Sion.

        These are results from Munich Germany, so interpret accordingly for other more sunny areas like California.

  5. Mark.ca says:

    No fricking way!!!
    This will be a home run if they can keep the prices at this level and the car actually gets close to 5 miles per day from solar…at 18 miles/day i’m having an orgasm just thinking about it!

  6. Will says:

    And they said you couldn’t charge your car with solar panels integrated into the car😏

    1. Brave Lil' Toaster says:

      No, they didn’t say that you *can’t*. Just that it’s *stupid*.

      And at a range of (max! In summer! On a good day!) 18 miles per day, they just demonstrated that in spades.

      Solar powered cars are a cute science project. And they’re about as practical as any prototype can be. But this is just a proof of “why you don’t just cover the car in solar panels”. They’re not *magic*.

  7. Mark.ca says:

    Can any of you Germans out there schedule a test drive and let us know how it went?

    1. Brandon says:

      Yeah, good thought. I’ll keep my eyes open for video or write up from someone who does a test drive. They start in Munich in three weeks.

      1. Antonius says:

        I met one of those guys during a bratwurst-filled event last week (does this sound German?), once they offer test drives in my region, I’ll try to get a slot!

    2. Eletruk says:

      Test drives start August 18 in Munich.
      https://www.sonomotors.com/test-drive.html

      1. Antonius says:

        Thanks for the link, I’ll sign up for Frankfurt

  8. Tom Moloughney says:

    Interesting stuff. Nicely done, Brandon.

  9. David Murray says:

    I’m finding the numbers hard to believe. But I hope it is all true. 18 miles per day would cover quite a bit of daily commuting. And I’d like most people you didn’t work at least two days out of the week, then you could average that out to another 7 miles per day. So if you commute less than 25 miles per day and only drove 5 days a week, that would be 100% solar driving. Of course there is always the issue of rainy days.

    1. Brandon says:

      I know, it’s amazing. The cells add up to around 1100 peak watts. That number is from the Fact sheet, which I’ll link here: http://files.sonomotors.com/Facts_ENG.pdf

      In an email with Sono last year, I was told that in their real world testing they got between 4-6 kWh per day.

      This EV likely gets around 4 miles per kWh, so that’s 16-24 miles range! Obviously that’s in sunny conditions, so in the winter or cloudy days it might be half that.

      With that in mind, I figured about 5k miles per year from the solar is likely.

      1. Mark.ca says:

        These numbers just don’t add up. On the website it say that the solar surface is 7.5 square meters…how is that possible???
        I have LG320’s on my house which are huge panels (64.57 x 39.37 inch) and one equals to 1.64 square meters. Are they telling us they were able to fit 4.5 panels on this small car?

        1. Mark.ca says:

          viSono
          • 7,5m² solar surface
          • High-efficiency SunPower cells with 22% efficiency
          • 349 individual cells each 3,28W / cell
          • Total: 1144 Watt Peak
          • Sufficient for 30 km (18,6 miles) / day

          1. Brandon says:

            Well, there is the equivalent of just over 2 solar panels on the roof alone. There are 136 cells up there, and a regular residential solar panel (39″ x 65″) has 60 cells.

            http://brightstarsolar.net/common-sizes-of-solar-panels/

            Plus all sides have cells, so in total it adds up to 330 cells, which times 3.28 watts per cell is 1080 watts total.

            As far as I can tell, there are 1.8 sq meters in a solar panel, so it looks like we’re talking the equivalent of just over 4 panels on this car. But that might be the larger commercial panels that are 39″ x 77″, because 7.5 sq meters divided by 1.8 sq meters is 4.16.

      2. SolarEV says:

        Fact sheet: “child seat can be positioned upside down”

        Huh?

        I’m thinking there was a translation issue there. LOL.

      3. Dan says:

        All 7 square meters cannot possibly generate power!!! The car occupies the same region of the earth’s surface whether they decide to plaster the sides and undercarriage with panels or not. Solar insolation onto the region where the car is parked is fixed irrespective of how many different angles in which they mount the panels. The car will never be able to hit 1100 Watts or the 5kWh reguired to generate enough juice for 18 miles. For reference, the driest parts of India generate 4 kWh per square meter when the panel is tracking the sun during the day.

        1. Mark.ca says:

          I SoCal one of my panels 1.64 square meters at 19.5 efficiency generates 2kWh/day. The solar surface exposed at once on this car can get up to 5 square meters so to get 5kWh in optimal conditions is possible.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “All 7 square meters cannot possibly generate power!!! The car occupies the same region of the earth’s surface whether they decide to plaster the sides and undercarriage with panels or not… The car will never be able to hit 1100 Watts or the 5kWh reguired to generate enough juice for 18 miles.”

          Yeah, simple logic and simple geometry say you’re correct, regardless of the claims here.

          Solar cells can still generate power from indirect light, and some do better at that than others. But if they are figuring the power generated based on X amount of insolation (sunlight hitting a surface parallel to the ground at a given latitude) x area x solar cell efficiency = power generated… then that’s obviously a bogus claim. No matter which direction the sun is, some of those solar cells will receive only indirect lighting, and so will generate far less power than the math indicates.

          I really find this sort of B.S. to be irritating. It’s like they think we are too ignorant, or too scientifically illiterate, to realize that what they’re claiming can’t possibly be true.

          But hey, perhaps for their test they parked the car inside an array of carefully positioned sun-tracking mirrors, to light up all sides of the car equally. 😉

          1. Brandon says:

            Just FYI, the 30 km/18 mile figure is not just an unsubstantiated claim of what they theoretically thought the output is, but is derived from their real world tests of the pre production prototype with the same layout of cells as the production prototype. They got between 4-6 kWh per day. This info is via email last year with Jono (one of the founders). At times they got more than 30 km per day, but Jona said that in fact they wanted to be conservative in their estimate, so 30 km was the best real world figure to go with.
            So I for one don’t have qualms about saying it’s 18 miles.

  10. William says:

    Solar is the answer for sun soaked EV regions. Why it took this long for a decent EV solar vehicle, is any body’s guess. The OPEC boys better buy these guys out and pronto, and put the proverbial brakes on this highly sustainable and renewable automotive solution.

    I want the NFL Randy MOSS edition/version, with extra wide receiver Moss, for when the Coal Rollers, who have had me for lunch before, will think thrice before smoking their tires in my Moldy bio defense weapon enabled face.

  11. John says:

    Lots of details still pending based on what’s currently on the website but its interesting that GM backs away from the Spark EV at around these price points while these folks create an attractive package of features and capabilities with a larger battery as well. As the Bolt article posted today discusses, its all about identifying your target markets and designing a product that meets those requirements, including appropriate price.

    Even without incentives, I could see this car being attractive to many, with incentives it would be significantly less than ICE options in the same category.

    1. John says:

      Actually fewer details pending than I thought since I’d missed the fact sheet on their website referenced in another post.

      1. Brandon says:

        Good thoughts. The fact sheet doesn’t appear to be on their newly designed website. I got the link from the old site, and it looks like it still works.

  12. Kuk says:

    Amazing! Waiting for practical tests how reliable this is.

  13. Chris says:

    Is there really a future for battery leasing though? I gathered it wasn’t that popular.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Probably no future. Most of the companies planning to lease the pack separately have wound up not doing that, partly due to continually falling battery prices.

      There is a case to be made for leasing the pack separately only because batteries are still so expensive. But as prices continue to fall, any remaining limited advantage will erode away.

  14. Tj says:

    This is actually kind of perfect. My round trip commute is only 9 mi. Because I live in a shopping district and car pool, I only drive every other day or so.

    Not to mention this should be eligible for the Ontario $14k discount, giving me the perfect city commuter.

    I realize solar panels make much more sense on a fixed site, but I live in an apartment with no charging capability, so this is the ideal compromise.

    Only problem I see is that it is not supported by a major manufacturer. Where to get warranty/maintenance work done

    1. Bill Dale says:

      TJ—

      Ontario? California, or Canada? If you are in Ontario, Cal, there are several EV enthusiasts you can find within driving distance, such as Jehu Garcia, Marvin Campbell and George Stenheimer, all of whom are members of the EVA of Southern California, and who are active in spreading the interest in EVs and promoting their use.

      So… California, or Canada?

      1. Jason says:

        I think he’s in Canada as the 14K rebate is in Ontario, Canada

  15. SparkEV says:

    A small EV with DCFC that can tow and cost $13K post subsidy in CA? Considering most small gassers at that price range can’t tow, this could be a hot seller if it performs better than gassers (0-60 in about 10 seconds).

    Unfortunately, it’s an unproven company in US, so it’s a “wait and see” for me. But I wish it becomes a success; with Tesla 3 being so long, this might be a better fit for me (easier parking at the beach).

    1. Mark.ca says:

      I’m more exited about other manufacturers picking up the design and run it on other evs. This could make me charge the car once or twice a month….how crazy is that?!
      Everyone keeps saying it can’t be done so all i want to see if this actually works, proof of concept… and this could make things interesting!

      1. SparkEV says:

        If you mean the solar panels, I’d rather they not have solar and reduce the cost further. Solar on cars will never be able to recoup the cost. Solar on cars may be even worse than “solar freaking roadways”.

        1. Mark.ca says:

          What other car option recoups its cost? None! That’s not the point. This is a range extender, like having a gas tank but instead of paying for fuel you get it for free. At the current cost of this car I can’t imagine the panels cost them too much anyway. I’m totally behind this! At 4 to 6 kWh per day this is worth over $300/year to me in savings alone…to me even more appealing would be that I would charge only 2 times a month because of this range extender.

          1. SparkEV says:

            Unlike most things on a car, you can pay for roof solar instead of having it on the car. Since car has panels on the sides, half of them (on sides) will be useless all the time. Even the solar freaking roadways will be more efficient than solar on the car.

            If solar is an option, I’d rather not take that option. But from the photos, it seems they are not optional, which means I’d be paying extra for stuff that I don’t want.

            1. Bill Dale says:

              SparkEV:
              Sorry, you obviously don’t understand the basics of how solar works.

              If you have an old-fashioned type flashlight, or a radio, or
              any other device that runs off of multiple cells connected in series, and all of the cells are good but one cell is completely dead, your device will not work at all.

              Solar cells are similar, except that for most systems, such as home rooftop solar, you typically have dozens or even hundreds of cells in series. If a leaf, a bird or a squirrel lands on one cell, it can knock out the power that a whole series of cells can produce.

              For this reason, solar panels have multiple devices between the various cells whose task it is to remove a non-working cell from the string and bypass it so that the working cells can still do their job.

              Also, if one side of the car had a solar panel that was not directly in the sun but still faced some other area of the sky, it would still generate energy, simply not as much.

              Managing the energy output of a solar array is a complicated, messy juggling act, but if there is one side of the car that is not getting direct light, it can still provide some energy to the system.

              This does not mean the idea is particularly effective at working as a range extender, but yes, it can work in a fashion.

        2. Bill Dale says:

          Solar is too expensive? I disagree. Solar prices have fallen significantly in 50 years— cost about one percent of what systems cost early on— and they continue to drop in price as PV chemistry continues to become better understood, and economies of scale push prices ever lower.

          1. Dan says:

            It’s not that solar is too expensive. It’s that they will never be able to get 18 miles of charge in a day. They’ve plastered solar all around the car, including the sides but forgot the fact that the amount of solar radiation reaching the area occupied by the car doesn’t change. It looks like the kind of solution that a group of engineers put together, that one mathematician could have helped avoid!

            1. Mark.ca says:

              The sid of the car in shade is only 2 sq m at one time …solar panels DO GENERATE IN SHADE unlike popular belief.

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                However, they don’t generate nearly as much power as they are rated at, when they are not exposed to direct sunlight.

                Now, did the company claim that 100% of the surface area will generate the rated power at all times when sunlight is hitting the car, regardless of whether any solar cell is in shade or not? To quote from their fact sheet:

                • 330 individual cells each 3,65W / cell
                • Total: 1205 Watt Peak

                Yeah, that is exactly the bogus claim they are making.

                And since they claim to have test driven the car and claim to actually get that much additional range per day… then they are reporting “facts” they know are not true. This isn’t an error; this is flat out lying.

                Bottom line: This is a scam.

                * * * * *

                William asked:

                “Why it took this long for a decent EV solar vehicle, is any body’s guess.”

                We don’t need to guess. The reason why nobody has done it is because it doesn’t work for real cars. A functional “solar powered car” — which this isn’t, it’s a sham — is basically a 3- or 4-wheeled bicycle, usually carrying just the driver in a cramped space, with a very light plastic fairing covered with solar cells.

                Something like this:

                https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2007/10/071026201442_1_900x600.jpg

                1. Mark.ca says:

                  The peak number is just informative and not real world production. In order to get to 5kWh/day produced you don’t need to be at peak during the day.
                  You could understand this better if you had solar. I gave you my real life example. I have inferior efficiency panels and have half of them mounted on E and half on W and each one gets 2.05kW/day on ideal condition or 0.5kWh/day on really bad days. What they are talking about is ideal conditions so knowing that one of my panels is 1.64 sq meters then they managed to fit 4.57 panels on this car which translates to 1.22 kWh/day/sq meter. At 4 sq meter surface of generation (entire roof, hood and one side counted as half due to sharp angel) this system could get you almost 5kWh/day. In my eGolf that will take me 24 miles (city). You can keep bitching about the price of the car or whatever, all I’m telling you is that the solar numbers can be real in ideal conditions.

                  1. Mark.ca says:

                    “angle” not angel…lol…i hate this fricking “autocorrect”.

                    1. Brandon says:

                      You nailed it Mark. That is correct.

                      At 1200 watts total it’s definitely possible to get 4,000 watts per day even if just 4 sun hours are gained per day as is the case in many parts of the northern U.S.

                      At 4 sun hours, direct exposure would give 4800 watts, and less 20% because of indirect exposure on some sides of the car during some parts of the day would bring it close to 4,000 watts.

                      4,000 watts times 4 miles per kWh (a very good figure for a smaller EV like the Sion and Bolt) is going to give 16 miles of range.

                      These are realistic conservative figures.

  16. K A Cheah says:

    Perhaps, the range could be further enhanced if the sprayed-on SolarWindow PV could be use on all surfaces including Windscreens, Sides and Rear Windows of the Car to generate more power and then stores this into its battery for running the car at all times thereafter.

  17. Kosh says:

    Now you need to park at the back of the work lot so nobodies Escalade will be shading you…

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Yup. One of several disadvantages for this car would be that you’d have to make sure you park it where it will be in direct sunlight for the entire day, without any shade. And if it’s depending on solar cells on the side of the car, not just the top, that means it can’t be parked in a regular parking lot stall, where the car beside it would partially shade the side.

    2. Mark.ca says:

      Yeah, because there’s always that guy that parks on top of you…

  18. wavelet says:

    Extremely unlikely numbers.

    €4,000 for a 30kWh battery in low volumes (an unknown manufacturer won’t sell many the first couple of years…)? Not likely.

    €16K for a vehicle containing so many solar panels? That should be double at local volumes.

    And it’s really inefficient using on-vehicle panels. Use the same surface for a PV installation where it can be optimally located in terms of insolation angle (at any given time, half of the non-roof cells on the car are going to be wasted because of shading…) and storage.

    1. Mark.ca says:

      Use the same surface for a PV installation where it can be optimally located in terms of insolation angle”
      Why? Because on the road you don’t have access to your home panels. This will extend your car range. And since when you have to have either or….why not both?

    2. josborne says:

      “€4,000 for a 30kWh battery in low volumes (an unknown manufacturer won’t sell many the first couple of years…)? Not likely.”

      I find that a bit optimistic as well.
      Then again, they said in the presentation that they will need 5000 preorders before they can get the car into production, which I would say is “many” by EV standards.
      The only reference we have is the Bolt replacement battery at $15.7k list price. Divide by two — €6.6k or thereabouts. Minus GM’s margin, minus dealer margin, minus two years’ worth of battery commoditization (production start in 2019)… why not?

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “€16K for a vehicle containing so many solar panels?”

      Yeah, I find the low price to be just as unrealistic as the claim for 18 miles per day just from solar cells on the car.

      Given the history of startups making EVs in low numbers, it’s pretty safe to say the car will wind up costing much, much more than this initial estimate.

      The only way I think they could make this car at such a low price would be to make it a low speed motorized quadricycle, known as an “NEV” (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) in the USA;, not a real street-legal, highway capable, crash test rated, full sized passenger car.

      And if it was limited to NEV speeds… well, that would certainly help with the 18 mile range claim! 🙂

      1. Mark.ca says:

        I paid $800 for 7.5 sq meters of solar panels in US…of cours you will have the integration costs on top.
        Some of you need to catch up on solar pricing…hint…is not expensive anymore!

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Perhaps I wasn’t clear.

          They couldn’t make and profitably sell a street-legal, highway capable car “featuring a 30 kWh battery” pack for €16,000 even if the solar cells cost them nothing. Especially not one large enough to need four doors.

          It’s not about the cost of solar cells; it’s about the cost of producing a street-legal EV in small numbers.

          1. Brandon says:

            Right. Producing a street legal car is no small feat and expense.

            Also, it’s €16,000 plus €4000 for the battery, which is $23,400 at today’s exchange rate of €1.00 to $1.17 USD.

            $23,400 is the expected final cost, and by preordering the highest amount that gives 8% off, just under $1,500 can be shaved off that, making it $21,900.

  19. KM says:

    Maybe you could get grants for both solar and ev? ☺

  20. josborne says:

    After the presentation yesterday, I think it is clear that there are still quite a few obstacles to overcome before this actually becomes a “production car”. Also, that DIY look is probably not for everyone…

    With that negativity out of the way: It is a brilliant, brilliant project. The solar panels, the natural air filter, bi-directional charging are all very nice, but I think the most important idea is building a very basic EV with sufficient range at a price point where it really becomes affordable. It sends a nice message to all legacy automakers — if that handful of people with no experience in car manufacturing can come up with a 250 km EV for 20k Euros, why don’t you?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      It’s easy for an inexperienced startup to make unrealistic claims for a very low priced EV. It’s far harder to deliver one a that price.

      As an example, look at the Th!nk City (picture linked below). It was a plastic-bodied, 23-24 kWh microcar BEV, apparently far smaller than the Sono Sion, which due to low production wound up being (briefly) sold in the U.S. for $41,695, which at today’s exchange rate would be €35,635. And they’re going to deliver this Sono Sion as a street-legal car for €16,000 with a 30 kWh battery pack?

      No, they’re not. Not even close. Count on it.


      Th!nk City

      1. josborne says:

        I don’t disagree, it is hard to believe. These €16k are without the battery, however. And I don’t know the cost of a 23 kWh battery in 2007, but I suppose it accounted for a lot of the Th!nk City’s €35.6k price tag…

        1. Brandon says:

          I suppose there could have been something in the article stating this, but Sono will have a third party automotive manufacturing company build the car for them. Kind of like the German postal vans were done I believe.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          josborne said:

          “These €16k are without the battery, however.”

          Okay, I see you are correct; this company’s “Facts” .pdf says “€ 16.000 ($ 17.620)
          excl. 35 kWh battery rental or purchase”

          …which is not what the article above says.

          But it’s still a scam.

      2. Chester Koenig says:

        Sure, but you’re comparing these two things incorrectly. Th!nk City was first produced in 2008 and included a battery. Back then, battery technology was much more expensive, so the actual cost of the entire vehicle would’ve been hindered by this. The Sion is €16k without a battery or €20k with one. Have battery costs come down this much since 2008? I’m sure someone can answer that question.

        With all of that stated, it certainly does seem to be too good to be true at the moment, taking into consideration that the cost is so low and includes a large contingent of solar panels on the base cost of the vehicle.

        Regardless, I hope they succeed and we get cars with solar panels that work well in the real world at some point in the future.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          You certainly have some good points; it’s hard to find an apples-to-apples comparison for an EV from a new startup.

          Yes, battery prices in 2010 were much, much higher, probably something like 4-8x higher; but then the Th!nk City was a much smaller car than this 4-door Sono Sion appears to be, nor does the Sion appear to be a cheap plastic-bodied car.

  21. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Now, is that claim of 18 miles per day just from the solar cells a case of the typical unrealistic claims from solar power advocates? That is, you could only get it if the sun was (impossibly) directly overhead for 12 hours a day, the car was sitting at the equator, and without any clouds in the sky for the entire day?

    Or have they actually made this vehicle so ultra-light so that the 18 miles per day is a real-world number? In that case, there is no way it would pass crash tests to be legal to drive on the highway. At best, it would be rated as a low-speed NEV in the USA.

    Yeah, I’m skeptical to the point of cynicism about the claims. I think I have good reason to be. There is only so much energy provided per square foot/meter from sunlight, and only so much surface area on a car.

    As I recall, a realistic claim for miles/day from solar cells on a car is about 6 or 7. Even if they covered literally the entire car (minus windows) with solar cells, can they really get 3x that much energy in a day, especially in Europe or the USA, or any latitude above/below the tropics?

    1. Mark.ca says:

      You don’t drive an ev, don’t you?
      They said the panels could get you 4 to 6kWh/ day.
      My eGolf gets 4.8m/kWh for my work comute….i will let you do the math yourself.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “You don’t drive an ev, don’t you?”

        Yeah, and what’s your point? That’s like claiming that someone who doesn’t play baseball can’t be a rabid baseball fan who memorizes player stats.

        Doesn’t work that way. I can read the numbers for solar cell power generation, and EV power consumption, and do the math… including the geometry of sunlight hitting solar cells.

        Driving an EV wouldn’t improve my ability to do any of that in in any way.

  22. orinoco says:

    If even Elon Musk (who still pursues the crazy idea to go to Mars) gave up the idea of putting solar cells into the model 3, I doubt that the Sion has a serious business model.

    Yes, the German Streetscooter company, owned by DHL, is a success. But they have a complete different business model starting with spartanic delivery cars for DHL, that cost about the price of a Tesla Model 3, but are still profitable, because of the very calculable everyday use in stop&go delivery service.

    Conquering the private car market is a totally different number. And for half the price of a Model 3 even big players like Renault or Nissan can’t produce cars with profit.

    And to produce the Sion in significant numbers, where do they get the batteries?

    Building a prototype is quite easy. Starting a small production is challenging. Achieving real mass production your company name must be “Tesla” (and even they still have to prove it).

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “And to produce the Sion in significant numbers, where do they get the batteries?”

      That’s not a challenge for a startup. They are not going to start out with their first car model selling like the Model 3 is almost certainly going to. They can likely buy the relatively small amount of batteries they’d need from Samsung, which according to Jay Cole is in a bit of a price war with LG Chem, and unlike the latter, probably doesn’t already have too many customers to supply.

      But if I’m right and this is just another high-tech investment scam, then they don’t need to worry about where to get batteries for a production car.

      1. Brandon says:

        Trust me Pu-Pu, the people at Sono are noteworthy and commendable individuals who truly have a desire to see some changes by becoming independent from oil.
        I really believe they can be likened to Tesla in their idealism and ambition to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport.
        Maybe you want to write them an email and ask some questions if you really want to find out some facts. They will likely reply.
        info@sonomotors.com

  23. m01 says:

    BMW i3 with an iPad. Just look at the controls, steering wheel, shifter and the narrow wheels.
    Seems like they just built a GFRP body on top. Lame.

    1. m01 says:

      I even found the wheels, Brock eB1 aftermarket wheels for BMW i3: https://www.felgenshop.de/brock-eb1-schwarz-front-poliert-19-zoll-0580071369/

  24. Someone out there says:

    Put those somar panels on your house instead

    1. Someone out there says:

      *solar. Writing on the phone sucks

  25. Apkungen says:

    It’s sick how they even want to consider a 14kWh battery! Another 16kwh to 30kwh should cost the company around 2400usd which is nothing even considering how much farther one can go. The should definitely consider a 60kwh version as well. I think sweet spot is 50-70kwh depending on the body.

    And if you want to always have the chance of taking advantage of solar charging you can’t charge the battery full.

  26. FreePat says:

    I have a problem with the maths here. 18 Miles of range per day is 60% of typical 30M range reached w/ 10KWH battery packs PHEVs, hence requires # 6KWH of energy per day under the sun. If I assume the roof of such a car can provide up to 6 M2 of active surface PV (May be more using the doors but less efficient then), # same as Qty 3.75 x 1.6m2 solar panels surface, and the car is always outside, always properly oriented south, benefits full 12h of average sunlight with no shadow…. Then same number of very good 22% efficient 1.6M2 panels rated 330Wc could produce per day #15KWH, that could cover # 55M of local commutes.
    Still that means their solar cells may have a low efficency well <10%, and/or because they are placed all over the car only half may get decent light at each moments on time ? Of course no question to park the car inside any building or under a tree…etc, to benefit that…..
    Still for cars in sunny places, always parked outside in the right south direction, in small islands with little milleage per day, there may be a case for local commutes of less than 18M per day… Not sure where this is the case in Germany… Plus in these sunny places mind there will be no way to open the roof, and the air conditioning consumption may dramatically reduce the range… But still interesting..

    1. Brandon says:

      The cells used are SunPower cells which are 22% efficient. Here is the Fact Sheet with some of the specs of interest:

      http://files.sonomotors.com/Facts_ENG.pdf

      Also, it’s not the point of the car to do all it’s driving on solar. For some people it may be, others not, but doing what’s possible with today’s solar technology like Sono is doing is commendable.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Still that means their solar cells may have a low efficency well <10%, and/or because they are placed all over the car only half may get decent light at each moments on time ?"

      They are claiming the solar cells they are using are 22% efficient, which is certainly a plausible claim. That's about average these days.

      The claim that all the cells well generate full power at any time… that's obviously B.S. I'd estimate that there is more surface area of solar cells on the sides of the car, collectively, than on the roof and hood, so common sense and simple geometry says that less than 50% of these cells will be generating anywhere near maximum possible power at any time.

      Different types of solar cells do better or worse at generating power from indirect lighting, but my guess is that the cells on this car will generate less than half the energy over the course of a day than they are claiming, and therefore the car would get less than half the claimed range from solar energy.

      Again, that's just a guess, but I think it's an educated guess, so likely isn't very far off.

      1. Brandon says:

        Instead of half the rated peak watts, it’s likely only 25% to 30% less.

        Also, I think you may be mis interpretating their peak watts statement. They aren’t saying that is what the output will be in use, but it’s the RATING, and all all solar panels and solar systems can have a rating.

  27. AlphaEdge says:

    Living growing moss to provide air carbin filtration!

    LOL!

    Neat concept, but I can imagine the build quality of a car made in someone’s garage to be awful.

  28. abc123 says:

    What would be better is that along with the solar panels, they should also generate electricity from the heat absorbed by the car. That black car sitting in the sun will get HOT!

    Finally, solar panels are great… when they are clean. Just imagine you have to wash this car very frequently in order to maximize panel efficiency.

    1. Mark.ca says:

      It just a myth that light dust affects solar generation in a significant way. You can test this at home if you have solar.

  29. mzs.112000 says:

    So with a total range of ~100 miles, on a 30kWh battery, that’s about the same efficiency as a Nissan Leaf.
    The Nissan Leaf has more surface area. So it should be possible to get 18 miles of solar range in the current Leaf body style by replacing the roof and body panels with solar cells.
    I have even calculated that under fully optimal conditions, you could go 20 miles per day like this.

  30. Brave Lil' Toaster says:

    I like the price. I’d like to see if this makes any significant sales in the future, but considering that it’s made by some oddball automaker with no reach or marketing presence, I very highly doubt that those numbers will ever be very high at all.

    But hey, who knows?

  31. Adi says:

    Instead of wasting money on PV I will buy a used MX5 as a weekend car, thats money well sent.

  32. Ken Kemp says:

    A very limited application vehicle. With its limited range, it would not even be a suitable commuter vehicle for most cities in the US. Even if one could use this within a limited range, anyone wanting to travel via auto would need a second vehicle, unless one rents an auto, for every extended weekend or vacation trip. Thus the economics do not fit for anyone other than the wealthy at this time.

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