Startup Readies Solar-Powered EV

Germany’s Sono Motors GmbH says it has received 5,000 orders for its upcoming Sion electric car, which can be partially recharged by its attached solar panels.

The Munich-based startup aims to begin producing the 5-door hatchback in mid-2019 through an unnamed contract assembler in Germany. Pricing will start at €16,000 ($18,500). The battery is sold separately for about €4,000 ($4,600) but can be leased instead.

Sono says the Sion will be equipped with 330 solar cells embedded in the car’s roof, hood and body panels. The 1,200-watt solar array is expected to generate enough energy to power the Sion for as much as 30 km (18 miles) per day, depending on weather conditions and time of year.

A polycarbonate covering helps protect the solar panels. Sono describes the design as shatterproof, weather-resistant and lightweight.

The battery, which is supplied by Germany’s ElringKlinger, is expected to provide a 250-km (155-mile) driving range and can be fully recharged via a standard household outlet in about 13 hours. Sono says the battery can be replenished to 80% capacity in 2.5 hours at a public charging station or in less than 30 minutes with a fast-charging unit.

The battery powers an 80-kW electric motor mated with a single-speed transmission that drive’s the Sion’s rear wheels. Top speed is listed at 140 kph (87 mph).

The five-seat Sion is expected to weigh about 1.5 tons—including the battery. An optional towing package can handle about 1,650 lbs.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, heated seats and large infotainment display. Specially designed LED headlights and taillights developed by Germany’s Automotive Solutions also are in the works.

The car’s interior uses moss integrated into the dashboard for air filtration and humidity regulation. Sono says the system can filter 20% of the fine dust particles in a vehicle.

Sono also plans to offer a smartphone app that will allow owners to use their vehicles for ride-hailing, car-sharing and power-sharing services. The latter will allow owners to provide energy back to the grid or supply power to other vehicles, households and electronic devices.

More information is available on the 2-year-old company’s website.