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Sono Motors unveils the £21,000 Sion solar-electric car

German start-up Sono Motors has unveiled its production-ready solar-powered electric car – and already claims to have more than 19,000 orders for the panel-clad hatchback.

The Sion was unveiled last week at a special ‘Celebrate the Sun’ community event hosted by the brand in Munich.

Some 456 “half-cells” of solar energy cover nearly the entire body of the car to generate enough renewable energy to add 70 miles per week to the Sion’s estimated 190-mile battery range.

It said the passenger vehicle should go on sale in Germany next year for a price of around €25,000, the equivalent of around £21,000 – meaning it would undercut most conventional electric cars on the market today.

Would you buy a solar electric car? This is the Sono Motors Sion, which could become the first mass-produced passenger car with solar panels all over the body

Sono Motors says the solar-covered Sion will become an ‘affordable and reliable SEV’ [Solar Electric Vehicle] for the masses’.

Based on the – very specific – quoted price tag of €25,126 (£20,979 at the current exchange rate), it would be the cheapest electric car on the UK market, undercutting even the dinky Fiat 500, which starts at just under £24,000. .

The car has been in development since 2017, although the company says the final production design shown here has “major improvements” not seen on any of the earlier concepts.

This includes a more streamlined look with fewer lines and clearer surfaces, as well as redesigned headlights and taillight cluster and revised door handles.

A camera is also mounted on the boot lid – presumably to display an assessment image when backing up – and there’s a new ‘loading lid’ at the front, a flip-up panel on the underside of the bonnet.

Solar cells are built into every exterior panel of the car, except for the front and rear bumpers, and the roof is completely covered with cells to collect most of the sun’s rays.

The Sion was unveiled in production-ready form last week at a special 'Celebrate the Sun' community event hosted by the German start-up brand in Munich.

The Sion was unveiled in production-ready form last week at a special ‘Celebrate the Sun’ community event hosted by the German start-up brand in Munich.

Sono Motors says the solar-covered Sion will become an 'affordable and reliable SEV' [Solar Electric Vehicle] for the masses'

Sono Motors says the solar-covered Sion will become an ‘affordable and reliable SEV’ [Solar Electric Vehicle] for the masses’

It has quoted a - very specific - price of €25,126 (£20,979 at the current exchange rate).  That means it would easily be the cheapest electric vehicle on the market when it came to the UK, undercutting even the dinky Fiat 500 which costs around £24,000

It has quoted a – very specific – price of €25,126 (£20,979 at the current exchange rate). That means it would easily be the cheapest electric vehicle on the market when it came to the UK, undercutting even the dinky Fiat 500 which costs around £24,000

The fledgling automaker has also revised the cabin to make it feel more spacious and increase storage space.

New are the front and rear seats in the production-ready version shown last week, as well as the design of the steering wheel.

The uncluttered dashboard has two tablet-style screens: one for the instrument panel and one for the infotainment display.

Lower in the dash is a third display strip that looks like a beam of light, but can show different images, such as a forest or a lava lamp-like array.

There are only two buttons on the center console: one for the hazard warning flashers and the second probably the push button to start and stop the car.

The Sion also has moss integrated into the dashboard to naturally filter out dust particles and regulate interior humidity.

The brand says that the trim and interior will be available in a variety of colors – although the choice for the exterior may be slightly more limited due to the fact that the body is covered in sun-kissed panels.

The automaker says these panels are “self-sufficient on short journeys.”

The 54 kWh battery alone should provide a total range of 190 miles. The extra energy collected by the panels when the car is parked or driven outside should add about 70 miles of range per week – bringing the weekly average to 152 miles on a single charge.

Solar panels are installed in every external panel of the car, except for the front and rear bumpers, where the roof is completely covered with cells

Solar panels are installed in every external panel of the car, except for the front and rear bumpers, where the roof is completely covered with cells

Sono Motors has been developing the Sion since 2017. This is what the production-ready version will look like, with redesigned bodywork, reduced panel openings, revised door handles and a new rear design including a camera mounted in the boot lid.

Sono Motors has been developing the Sion since 2017. This is what the production-ready version will look like, with redesigned bodywork, reduced panel openings, revised door handles and a new rear design including a camera mounted in the boot lid.

The energy generated from the sun can also be fed back into the grid, where the car can be charged bi-directionally.

This means that the car can act as a ‘sustainable power source on wheels’ to power your electronic devices, or at peak times, when the vehicle is not in use, can feed green energy back into the grid, providing extra money for the owner.

Based on the average mileage of commuters in German cities, Sono Motors estimates that users will need to charge the Sion up to four times less than a conventional electric car of the same vehicle class with a comparable battery size.

The battery provides a maximum charging capacity of up to 75 kW via a DC charger, or 11 kW if you only have access to AC charging.

The 54 kWh battery offers a claimed range of 190 miles.  Additional energy collected by the panels when the car is parked outside and driven should add about 70 miles of range per week - bringing the weekly average to 152 miles

The 54 kWh battery offers a claimed range of 190 miles. Additional energy collected by the panels when the car is parked outside and driven should add about 70 miles of range per week – bringing the weekly average to 152 miles

The interior has been redesigned with a new dashboard layout, improved seats and more storage compartments.  Sono Motors says it has already received more than 19,000 expressions of interest from customers, each of whom has made a deposit to reserve one of the cars once production starts in Finland in the second half of 2023.

The interior has been redesigned with a new dashboard layout, improved seats and more storage compartments. Sono Motors says it has already received more than 19,000 expressions of interest from customers, each of whom has made a deposit to reserve one of the cars once production starts in Finland in the second half of 2023.

The brand says the car is already being tested on the road and will undergo “uncompromising field testing under extreme conditions in both Europe and the US” in the coming months.

This includes crash tests to ensure the car is considered fit for sale in all countries, as well as testing in different climates to optimize solar technology and ensure its safety in extreme conditions.

An extensive track and road testing program will also help refine the vehicle’s driving dynamics.

The brand says it has aroused a lot of interest in the Sion. As of July 1, 2022, it even had more than 19,000 “active private reservations” for the car.

These customers have paid an average deposit of $2,225 – roughly £1,850 – to reserve a built lock, it claims.

If all the reservations are converted into purchases, the start-up is in line to sell €415 million (£347 million) worth of cars.

“With an estimated net retail price of just $25,126, the Sion is expected to have one of the lowest TCOs (total cost of ownership) in the midsize segment as the patented solar technology significantly reduces the need to charge the vehicle,” the company said. .

Production is expected to begin in Finland in the second half of 2023 under a partnership agreement with Valmet Automotive. with German customers delivering the first models off the assembly line.

Sono Motors, which was only founded in 2016, says it will produce about 257,000 Sion vehicles within seven years.

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