Recently, Sono Motors hosted its first “Celebrate the Sun” community event with over 2000 attendees. The Munich-based OEM celebrated the debut of the world’s first affordable solar electric vehicle (SEV), the Sion, in its production design, as well as the unveiling of its novel ‘Solar Bus Kit,’ a scalable B2B solution for public transportation.
“We are tremendously excited for Sono Motors’ journey towards providing clean, affordable, and accessible solar transportation for the masses. The premieres of the Sion in its production design and the ‘Solar Bus Kit’ represent a giant leap forward in realizing our vision for a sustainable world, furthering our mission to reduce carbon emissions,” said Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “Production of our series-validation fleet and presenting the Sion in its production design is a further step towards delivering on our promise of an affordable solar-electric passenger vehicle. In addition, business diversification through the establishment of our B2B solar business as a strategic pillar helps us to achieve our key targets. We are scaling up our Sono Solar business with our new ‘Solar Bus Kit’ and have successfully increased our B2B customer base.”
The Sono Sion Solar Car
The final production design of the Sion included many improvements over its earlier concepts, including a smoother exterior and interior. A new bottom sideline design, new door handles, a streamlined rear with new camera and 3D lines, and a new charging lid have been introduced to the Sion’s redesigned appearance. The Sion has improved inside space along with more comfortable seating. The vehicle has a range of up to 250 kilometers (155 miles), can be charged via conventional outlets or with the solar panels integrated into the car body, and comes standard with an impressive list of equipment and safety features.
What makes the Sion special is its integrated solar power. The family-friendly Sion will be encased in a single, lightweight shell of 456 seamlessly integrated solar half-cells that will allow for short trips without the need for external sources of power. The solar cells are expected to add an average of 112 kilometers (up to 245 km) per week to the estimated 305 kilometer range of the Sion.
Commuters in German metropolises will be able to charge their Sion up to four times fewer than comparable electric cars with the same battery size, thanks to a unique system that allows them to charge at twice the usual rate. The battery has a maximum charging capacity of 75 kW (DC) and 11 kW (AC). Bidirectional charging, which enables the Sion to act as a mobile power station, will also be available.
The Sion will initially be available in four different versions: the Sion Pure, Sion Komfort, and Sion Connected, with various equipment packages and a choice of two battery sizes.
Sion is currently testing its prototype in Munich, near the company’s headquarters. The Sion’s testing program has already begun, as the firm builds its series-validation fleet in Munich near to its headquarters. This vehicle generation will go through rigorous practical tests under extreme conditions in both Europe and the United States over the next months, including series validation of the solar cells.
The New Solar Bus Kit
Sono Motors also presented its novel Solar Bus Kit, a scalable B2B solution for public transportation that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions in cities. The kit can be adapted to any bus size and consists of an easily installable roof unit with integrated solar cells as well as a bidirectional charging system. The energy generated can be used to power the electric drive or stored in the vehicle’s batteries. In case of a power grid outage, the Solar Bus Kit can also provide emergency power to traffic lights or operate as a mobile charging station for other EVs.
The Solar Bus Kit is a flexible and straightforward solution that may be used on the European market’s most prevalent 12-meter public transport bus models, including the Mercedes-Benz Citan and MAN Lion City. Sono Motors will provide a comprehensive and effective retrofit service for bus fleet owners who want to reduce diesel costs while maintaining or exceeding their sustainability targets.
“Our solar technology is already contributing to climate protection and reducing CO2 emissions for numerous partners. In Munich, for example, we are collaborating with the city’s public transport company and are thereby supporting the city’s clean air targets. Such partnership projects demonstrate the potential of our technology for the transport sector,” said Jona Christians, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “We’re proud to celebrate the unveiling of our novel solar product, the ‘Solar Bus Kit’, which will truly push our mission of making every vehicle a solar vehicle to the next level. The all-new Solar Bus Kit allows us to strengthen our solar business by maximizing the scalability of our technology to a huge market: the public and private bus fleet sector. It also represents a milestone on our path toward a world without fossil fuels.”
The Solar Bus Kit is an important building block in the company’s strategy to generate additional revenue through its B2B business and to become a one-stop-shop solution provider for electromobility.
Why This Matters
While solar power on vehicles definitely isn’t ready to completely take care of all transportation needs, it has great potential to become a significant player, especially in shorter commutes and city driving. For lightweight, efficient vehicles with only small power needs that tend to sit a lot during the day, solar power can add enough range to be worthwhile and even mostly replace grid charging.
Even partially reducing reliance on fossil fuels and increased electrical infrastructure is important. It’s also great for emergencies, when regular grid power isn’t available for whatever reason. As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of storms and other terrible weather, and the risk of solar EMP continues, having these capabilities would be a lot better than nothing.
Obviously, this isn’t a “one size fits all” solution. For many people, grid charging and stationary solar on a home, business, or above a parking lot makes a lot more sense. Whenever that’s true, it makes sense to go with that instead of fooling around with installing it on a car. But, when it makes sense and fits needs, it’s a great piece of the climate solutions puzzle.