German EV startup Sono Motors has kicked off a three-week tour of the United States with its Sion solar EV.
The Sono Motors Sion made its first appearance on October 10 in New York City's Times Square, but the "Celebrate the Change" cross-country tour will also include planned stops with public viewing in Boston (Oct 12), Detroit (Oct 17), San Francisco Bay Area (Oct 24-25), San Jose (Oct 26) and Los Angeles (Oct 27-28).
"We are tremendously excited to bring Sion to the United States for the first time and to showcase our vision of the future of solar transportation," said Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors.
Sono Motors believes the five-seater passenger vehicle, which is expected to retail in Europe for approximately €25,000 ($24,300), has the potential to become the world's first affordable SEV. The EV startup expects to start production of the Sion in the second half of 2023 at contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive's plant in Finland.
The Sono Motors Sion features 456 integrated solar half-cells that extend the time between charges and enable self-sufficiency on short journeys. The startup claims the solar technology extends the Sion's estimated 190-mile (305-kilometer) battery range by an average of 70 miles (112 km) per week in typical weather conditions and by as much as 150 miles (241 km) per week in optimal conditions.
Gallery: Sono Motors Sion Makes First US Appearance in NYC's Times Square
The vehicle's 54-kWh LFP battery allow for a maximum charging capacity of up to 75 kW (DC) and 11 kW (AC). It also supports bidirectional charging up to 11 kW, enabling it to charge devices, other EVs, or put energy back into private or public energy grids.
Sono Motors says it has a total of 42,000 reservations for the Sion, including more than 20,000 from private customers and more than 22,000 from fleet operators. More than 12,000 of the latter are from the FINN subscription car service that operates in Germany and the US.
Speaking of the US, one can't help but wonder if Sono Motors' tour is part of a plan to bring the Sion to the North American market. Hahn is not clear about that, but says the company is exploring US partnership opportunities for its expanding portfolio of integrated solar solutions for fleet operators.
"Our solar solutions are intended to enable trucks, buses, trailers, and other commercial vehicles to harness the power of the sun to reduce fossil fuel usage and costs without compromising on range — or anything else. Companies across Europe and the United States are already using or piloting our licensable technology on their fleet vehicles and we're eager to help even more American fleet operators."
Sono Motors recently unveiled its Solar Bus Kit, a solar retrofit solution optimized for 40-foot public buses commonly used in Europe. The kit is designed to allow electrical subsystems like HVAC, heating, ventilation, automatic doors, and video screens to be partially powered by solar energy, saving up to 400 gallons of diesel and up to 4.4 tons of CO2 per bus per year. Check out the following video for details.