€50 million ($55 million) has to be secured by the end of this year.

Sono Motors announced today a community funding campaign to raise some €50 million ($55 million) within 30 days and basically stay in business.

The German start-up planned to introduce its solar-powered Sono Sion electric car on the market in the second half of 2020, but now the timeline is September 2021, almost two years from now!

One would ask, what happened? Well, Sono Motors is learning the hard way how capital-intensive the automotive business is.

Initially, the company was planning to go with traditional investors, but it turned out that they have "entirely different goals" than Sono. The necessity to change the strategy emerged.

Here is how Sono explains the situation:

"In the past, the company’s high capital requirements meant that international investors in particular played a major part in its financing strategy. However, in advanced negotiations with a number of potential partners it became increasingly apparent that Sono Motors’ long-term corporate strategy could not easily be reconciled with the interests of traditional investors. A departure from the company's vision and an outflow of technologies and patents and ultimately the end for the forward-looking concept of the Sion would have been the result. The decision to no longer pursue the previous strategy and the termination of the corresponding talks requires the acquisition of new financial resources and postpones the production of the first vehicles into September 2021."

Sono Motors Sion
Sono Motors Sion

Laurin Hahn, CEO and cofounder of Sono Motors said:

“We realized again and again over the past few months that we have entirely different goals to traditional financial investors. Aggressive growth and quick profits are difficult to reconcile with a sustainable corporate and vehicle concept which is designed to give access to affordable and eco-friendly electromobility throughout. In addition, providing start-ups that have a capital-intensive business model with venture capital does not work in Germany, neither in the initial stages nor at the growth stage. Had we relied solely on funding measures or the German market environment, Sono Motors would probably not exist in its current form. Urgent action is required from the politicians in this area. It should be possible to implement such a future project in Germany and lead it to economic success. We will continue to fight anyhow. For climate-friendly mobility and for our reservation holders,”

Jona Christians, CEO and cofounder of Sono Motors said:

“We were torn between our pledge to the community and the investors’ demands and were increasingly moving away from who we really are, which is something we absolutely had to correct. Social responsibility and climate protection would otherwise have fallen by the wayside, and so would all that we stepped up for. We are now focusing on continuing to fund our innovative vehicle concept together with people who want to see the Sion on the road. Together with a community that asks for a company which acts responsibly, critically questions itself and can be judged honestly on the basis of the statements it makes,”.

To convince potential customers, founders are promising transfer of "future profits" to reservation holders:

"With the start of the campaign, the company founders are transferring their remaining shares of the profits to a Community Pool and transfer future profits to today's Sion reservation holders. They are therefore passing up their personal profits, but will keep their voting rights in the company. This ensures that the company’s objectives continue to be realized and that the Sion can be produced sustainably without any changes to the concept. The founding team currently holds around 74 percent of the company’s shares and 64 percent of the profit participation rights."

So far, the company received more than 10,000 paid reservations, which in Spring was estimated to be worth €214 million ($239 million) in terms of potential revenues.

Interestingly, according to the press release, the capital from the funding campaign "will then primarily be invested in production facilities for prototypes of the first solar electric vehicle (SEV): the Sion", which does not make us sure as to whether it will be enough to produce customers cars too.

In 2020 and 2021, the market will be flooded with a new wave of electric cars available in high volume, we are now extremely cautious about the future of Sion.

In German:

Gallery: Sono Motors Sion

Sono Sion specs:

  • about 35 kWh battery
  • 255 km (159 miles) of range (WLTP) – simulated
  • solar panels provide up to 34 km (21 miles) of range per day at peak performance
  • 120 kW and 290 Nm electric motor
  • 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 9 seconds
  • top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph)
  • 50 kW DC fast-charging capability and 11 kW three-phase on-board charger
  • towing up to 750 kg
Hide press releaseShow press release

Sono Motors Launches Community Funding Campaign with Target of 50 Million Euros

2,000 vehicle preorders to be generated in four weeks. Founders intend transfer of their profits into Community Pool.

Munich, December 2, 2019 – The German mobility provider Sono Motors launched one of the biggest community funding campaigns in Europe yesterday. The company’s campaign target is to generate 50 million euros between now and December 30, 2019, with preorders from existing and new supporters. The capital will then primarily be invested in production facilities for prototypes of the first solar electric vehicle (SEV): the Sion. This broad-based public campaign follows a strategic reorganization of the company’s finances. Long-term realization of the vision, an unreserved focus on the objectives of Sono Motors as well as the production and delivery of the Sion are to be safeguarded in ways other than with conventional financing rounds. The idea is for the follow-up financing to likewise be borne by the growing Sono Motors community, complemented by long-term investors who share and support the company’s value system and vision.

In the past, the company’s high capital requirements meant that international investors in particular played a major part in its financing strategy. However, in advanced negotiations with a number of potential partners it became increasingly apparent that Sono Motors’ long-term corporate strategy could not easily be reconciled with the interests of traditional investors. A departure from the company's vision and an outflow of technologies and patents and ultimately the end for the forward-looking concept of the Sion would have been the result. The decision to no longer pursue the previous strategy and the termination of the corresponding talks requires the acquisition of new financial resources and postpones the production of the first vehicles into September 2021.

“We realized again and again over the past few months that we have entirely different goals to traditional financial investors,” says Laurin Hahn, CEO and cofounder of Sono Motors. “Aggressive growth and quick profits are difficult to reconcile with a sustainable corporate and vehicle concept which is designed to give access to affordable and eco-friendly electromobility throughout. In addition, providing start-ups that have a capital-intensive business model with venture capital does not work in Germany, neither in the initial stages nor at the growth stage. Had we relied solely on funding measures or the German market environment, Sono Motors would probably not exist in its current form. Urgent action is required from the politicians in this area. It should be possible to implement such a future project in Germany and lead it to economic success. We will continue to fight anyhow. For climate-friendly mobility and for our reservation holders,” adds Hahn.

Sono Motors’ decision to opt for community funding is an unmistakable acknowledgment to the more than 10,000 supporters who have already preordered and prepaid a Sion and a rejection of teaming up with investors who do not share or support the company’s vision and goals. 

“We were torn between our pledge to the community and the investors’ demands and were increasingly moving away from who we really are, which is something we absolutely had to correct. Social responsibility and climate protection would otherwise have fallen by the wayside, and so would all that we stepped up for. We are now focusing on continuing to fund our innovative vehicle concept together with people who want to see the Sion on the road. Together with a community that asks for a company which acts responsibly, critically questions itself and can be judged honestly on the basis of the statements it makes,” says Jona Christians, CEO and cofounder of Sono Motors.

With the start of the campaign, the company founders are transferring their remaining shares of the profits to a Community Pool and transfer future profits to today's Sion reservation holders. They are therefore passing up their personal profits, but will keep their voting rights in the company. This ensures that the company’s objectives continue to be realized and that the Sion can be produced sustainably without any changes to the concept. The founding team currently holds around 74 percent of the company’s shares and 64 percent of the profit participation rights.

The Sion is the first production vehicle to bring together solar integration, mobility services and a bidirectional charging function. The seamless integration of solar cells into the vehicle’s surface makes this innovative all-rounder independent of the charging infrastructure over short distances. Up to 5,800 kilometers of free and carbon-neutral range can be generated a year thanks to the integration of solar cells, thereby lowering the running costs of the car. A total of 260,000 vehicles will be manufactured with renewable energy in Sweden.