Sono Motors on Monday revealed what it claims is a production-ready version of its Sion solar-assisted EV. Production is scheduled to start in the second half of 2023.
The production version gets revised exterior and interior styling, Sono said in a press release. The headlights, taillights, door handles, charge port, and rear fascia are new, according to the company.
On the inside, Sono said it changed the seats and steering wheel, while reconfiguring the interior to increase storage space. New color and trim options from what was previously offered to reservation holders are being added as well, the company said.
Sono Sion production model
The Sion is the only production model we're aware of, ever, that's used every body panel for solar. With proprietary cells and a unique process for incorporating them in the body process, Sion has approached this with startup workarounds.
A total of 456 solar half-cells should enable the hatchback to be driven longer distances without charging. Commuters in German metropolitan areas will charge four times less than drivers of conventional EVs with similar-sized battery packs, Sono claims.
The 54-kwh lithium iron phosphate (LFP) pack provides 190 miles of range on its own, with solar power adding an average of 70 miles of range per week, or up to 152 miles in ideal conditions, per Sono. The pack can also be charged conventionally at 11 kw from a Level 2 AC source or 75 kw with DC fast charging.
Sono Sion production model
Bidirectional charging is also included, with an 11-kw output. That's part of Sono's goal of making the Sion into a home power bank.
Sono said it is currently building "series-validation vehicles" in Munich. These will be used for testing in both Europe and the United States, including both the homologation and crash tests required to sell the car, and the extreme-climate and handling testing needed to ensure durability and reliability. Despite plans to test in the U.S., Sono hasn't discussed plans to sell the Sion here.
As of July 1, Sono claims to have over 19,000 reservation holders who have put down an average down payment of 2,225 euros ($2,225 due to current dollar/euro parity) against the Sion's planned 29,900-euro ($29,300) base price.
Sono Sion and solar kit for city buses
Unveiling of a production-ready vehicle is a reassuring step for those reservation holders after Sono abruptly changed production plans. The Sion was originally slated to be built by NEVS at the former Saab factory in Sweden, but will now be built by Valmet Automotive in Finland. Valmet is also building the Lightyear 0, another solar-assisted EV.
Sono is also looking to expand beyond passenger cars. Alongside the production-form Sion, it showed a solar kit for European city buses like the Mercedes-Benz Citaro and MAN Lion City. The startup claims to have 19 customers for the kit, which allows climate control and other subsystems to run on solar power, but doesn't replace buses' diesel engines.