Concept cars are relatively easy to build—particularly concepts of cars that may exist only on paper or as clay and foil design studies.
That has given rise to a host of new concepts launched as online crowd-funded endeavors of various levels of seriousness and potential.
One is Sono Motors, a German effort to build an electric car assisted by solar panels. The company showed a concept car last summer, and began testing in August.
Now Sono has revealed a production version of its electric hatchback, about the size of a Kia Soul, covered in more than a kilowatt of solar panels on the sides and the roof of the body that the company says can add about 21 miles of range per day (up from 18 with the original concept.)
That isn't much, especially considering the panels can only generate that much power on a clear, sunny day in the summer, when the driver doesn't park in the shade. Otherwise, the solar panels may add as little as 3 miles per day. Sono expects the average to be about 12 miles, however, using Munich as an example.
Even without that power, the car will offer a 35-kilowatt-hour battery that Sono says will give it a range of about 159 miles on the somewhat generous European WLTP driving cycle.
To take on range faster than the solar panels, the Sion will come with a 50-kw-capable CCS Combo fast-charge port as well as an 11 kw onboard charger. It even offers 7.6 kw of vehicle to grid charging so owners can use it to power their houses in the event of an outage, or to charge a friend's car.
The motor will deliver about 161 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque and deliver a top speed of 87 mph.
Some have criticized the concept as not really being solar powered, and expressed concern about the durability and efficiency of the solar panels, covered by polycarbonate panels on the body.
Sono Sion solar charged electric car solar panels
Sono says the car will sell for about $28,675 with the 35-kwh battery pack, but buyers can opt to lease the pack instead for less up-front cost.
It also claims to have more than 9,500 deposits of at least $560 (500 euros) in its crowdfunding campaign. That's not the 400,000 deposits of $1,000 that Tesla once had for the Model 3, but it could be a start.
Sono is planning to start production by the end of the year using German contract manufacturer Roding.
Check out the video below of Sion's working concept car, and be sure to turn on the closed captioning in the language of your choice.