2019 Sono Motors Sion Concept First Impressions


So many cool features!

We’ve been watching the Sion from Sono Motors from afar since it first popped up on IndieGoGo and our radar a couple years ago. Now, though, we can get a closer look by going along with Kenneth Bokor, host of the EV Revolution Show, as he checks out the solar-clad car during a demo day in Germany. Not only does he hold a sit-down interview with one of the company’s representatives, but he also does so from behind the wheel, giving us a feel for the car’s interior dimensions.

Luckily for us, he also gets to drive the prototype around a short course. Speeds reached, we have to say, were a bit low, but Bokor is impressed by the lack of squeaks and rattles. We realize too that, as this is basically a hand-built machine, driving impressions wouldn’t be a completely accurate translation of the car that is to come. Still, it should give some confidence that the Sono team has some engineering prowess.

The Sono Motors Sion is expected to go into production in late 2019. Already, over 8,100 people have made a reservation for the unique vehicle. That’s over 1,600 more than had pre-ordered just two months ago. When the Sion starts leaving the factory, these folks will fork over 16,000 Euro ($18,540), sans battery, for the base model. The power pack portion can be either bought outright for an additional 4,000 Euro ($4,633) or rented by paying a monthly fee. The only option will be a tow package.

Video description:

Special Episode – 2019 Sono Motors “Sion” Impressions – Recorded on October 4, 2018

While I was on some holidays in the Munich, Germany area earlier this month, I was able to attend a Media/Press event held by Sono Motors, an EV startup automobile manufacturer. This event featured their concept all-electric vehicle model “Sion”.

My thanks to Alexandra and Felix of Sono Motors for giving me with a chance to spend some time with the 2019 Sion and answering my questions!

Also special thanks to my Aunt Marti for driving me to the event and helping as my camera-person!

The Sion is currently at the prototype concept stage and many refinements and changes will most likely occur for production cars. More information can be found on their website at www.sonomotors.com.

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17 Comments on "2019 Sono Motors Sion Concept First Impressions"

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I really like the concept and specs, design not so much… the solar cells would actually make a lot of sense here in Portugal. Because it’s cheap I wouldn’t have a problem parking it outside. However my biggest concern is safety…

The kinds of panels that they put on the car are far more expensive than what you would put on your roof. Plus, the odd angles and minimal surface area means that the panels don’t really generate any meaningful juice for all the added cost. Every couple of years, there are wacky technologies like this (I’m looking at you solar roadways, and solar powered get-water-out-of-air systems) that fail basic tests of physics and thermodynamics. A BEV with the same level of specs and quality will cost many thousands less. You can use that money you saved to mount solar panels on your roof instead.

The thing is – even if the solar panels are a complete gimmick that does nothing at all, this car is still a price breaker. A flat €20k, including tax and including the battery, for a four-seater that is targeted to go 250km (160 miles) in realworld driving. It’ll probably be a 35 kWh battery.

Take literally any car available today or scheduled to launch in 2019, and compare its price per range – you will not find one that comes close. This will be *the* car for people who have thought about EVs but so far shied away because the only offerings with enough range have been too expensive.

Keep in mind that this is the demo prototype, not the production model. Sono Motors has already announced that the production model will look slightly different. Okay, it won’t radically change the design, but… sometimes a few more refined lines can make a car much easier on the eyes, even if the body shape is similar.

Yes they said they would stretch it out somewhat, so I’m not sure if the wheelbase will change or just the body paneling to extend a couple of inches.

Dit a test-drive at the city of Delft, Netherlands
Did not pre-order yet but strongy considering.

Think thrice about what the chances are of this company being around even 2-3 years from now…
The silly idea of solar panels aside (very inefficient on a car without being properly angled, not to mention rooftop panels last twice as long as a car, on average), all their numbers are highly unlikely.

€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 the entire vehicle with 30kWh, again, not doable at low volumes.
Making low-cost cars requires large investment in heavy manufacturing and real investors to the tune of millions, not crowdfunding.
Just the step of homologating a vehicle in a developed country is pretty expensive (about 100x of what they targeted in their crowdfunding, which would be ~2 engineer-years of salary in the EU).

And then they need a nice chunk of money simply to maintain a store of spare parts & a service network.

Hi, well if they sell about 10,000 cars to start that’s $200M euros or so, plus many will be on battery leasing so that will give them a monthly/yearly recurring revenue stream to continue to build and sell more. Their service model is soft meaning they won’t build it out, just use everyday parts (battery pack excepted) so that an owner can self repair for minor, or take it to almost any competent garage with the parts to fix.

If they can spin up fast enough and have a compelling final product, panels being gimmicky or not, I agree at that price point it will be very interesting for many thinking about a first BEV.

I did point out their Battery Partner in my video so I’m not sure how “unknown” they are in German circles.

I’m hoping they make a good go at it.

It’s not at all easy to sell 10K products costing 5 digits from an unknown manufacturer… Just ask Elio Motors in the US (not an EV play, but it doesn’t matter). Very few mainstream buyers would consider it. There’s a reason that there have been no new successful car companies in the developed world for over a century, Tesla possibly excepted. Car manufacturing requires large _upfront_ investment. Very few car owners are capable of, or interested in self-repair, esp. for high-voltage traction vehicles (I’d be very surprised if it’s even legal in Germany to do self-repair of 400V systems; it’s certainly illegal do any work involving fluids except in a specially-sealed garage for environmental reasons). And how will garages be competent if they don’t undergo specific training on the Sion, and general training on EV drivetrains? It costs a lot of money to develop decent training materials & programs. Most service garages I’m familiar with, in any country, will not do any servicing using customer-provided parts, except in rare circumstances. This is a liability issue and a profit issue — they typically make 20%-30% margin on the parts. They may be willing to forgo that, but only for very high… Read more »

I am sure in order to sell to other countries, they will need to have proper safety ratings, certs, etc. Country specific. One reason why they are moving to a solid roof as opposed to the all-glass currently. I’m hoping the final production model will look smoother and more refined.

I think there is a huge potential for cars like this in Europe, Asia and emerging markets… or Japanese K-car class small EV’s. Small motor, small wheels, in-wheel motors and small battery. Limit speed to 100-120 Kmh and limit the weight to under 800-1000 Kg. Solar cells cost almost next to nothing, make the panels removable. Plug in an android tablet for nav and entertainment and keep the price under $15K USD. Perhaps open source the design and allow any manufactures to make it.

Forget it, i will buy this in Cali tomorrow if it was available! I don’t subscribe to the idea that i have to drive a truck just because I’m american.

This would make an ideal urban-suburban vehicle. Not only are cars in the US too big, they are too damn heavy! It does not make any sense to use a 4000lb car to transport a 150-200lb person. I’ve driven K-cars in Asia and they are really great. If you limit the weight and speed of the car, you can probably use a very small battery and go very long distances and make them very cheap and very quickly chargable. Also make all the exterior components removable and interchangable and plug-n-play so anyone can replace a door or headlight, charge controllor, motor.. etc. Make most of the structure HDPE over a light aluminum crash structure. If you want you can just buy the parts and assemble it yourself like Ikea furniture.

There is a lot of potential for this type of car, but not from a crowdsourced, unknown “manufacturer”.
And pretty much no potential in the US — how many Smarts get sold there, or Fiat 500? There’s a reason why virtually no European, Japanese or Korean A-segment subcompacts get sold in the US.
I bet most US readers have never heard of 95% of the cars on this list. It’s a major market segment elsewhere.

With introduction of autonomous ride sharing, small car market will drastically change… just a matter of time. A small car like this, akin to the Google car can dominate urban areas in US.

That would be awful in terms of both traffic and resource usage. Urban areas and cars don’t mix beyond a minimum. And autonomous taxis (please don’t call them “ride sharing” — they aren’t, in any way, shape or form) don’t solve the problems of parking them, or deadhead miles.

“Estimated price” for the battery is now adjusted to 9,500 Euro with a gross capacity of 35 kWh. Suddenly the car is no longer so cheap. Wavelet was correct in the analysis, price for the battery was not doable. Let’s now wait and see if they can keep the 16,000 Euro car price.