At the beginning of the month, I wrote about Sono Motors’ campaign to save its Sion vehicle. For years, CleanTechnica has documented Sono Sion’s progress, from interviews with its officials to the unveiling of its car. We’ve followed the company on its journey to launch a solar-powered vehicle into production. We were sad to report that it is at risk of not having enough funds as it strives to make this happen.
The Sono Sion is an electric vehicle that harnesses the power of solar energy, similar to the Aptera. Yet, unlike its peer, it presents a much more traditional hatchback silhouette and rides on four wheels. It’s quite similar to the 2018 Nissan LEAF I used to own: a 5-passenger hatchback with a 35 kWh, 400-volt battery pack that puts out 120 kW of power while projecting an estimated range of 150 miles as its EV. However, the only major difference (aside from the solar power) on this vehicle is its rear-wheel drive setup, which will change the driving dynamics but ultimately have very little practical effect for most drivers.
The Sion might just be an ordinary low-end EV, but its remarkable features are what really make it stand out.
The car’s most impressive feature is its integrated solar charging system. Solar cells have been installed on all available surfaces, from the three sunroofs to the doors and hatchback. When conditions are ideal, 19 miles or 1.2kW of charging can be generated in a day – similar to what you’d receive with a US Level 1 charger, but without the wire or emissions associated with grid electricity in most places.
This vehicle is equipped with two-way charging, which can be activated via an application. If you have a surplus of energy and would not mind sharing it with other drivers, the app allows you to charge without your presence at all times. Additionally, this model comes pre-installed with a hitch capable of towing up to 1,500 pounds—making it especially worthwhile for non-pickup European customers to work like Americans do.
In 2019, we received several emails from readers warning us about the company’s potential difficulties. Clean technology can be exciting CleanTechnica enthusiasts and geeks all over the world, but investors tend to be far more cautious with their decisions, and perhaps a little too cautious.
We received no additional information as to why the inventors and potential financiers were unable to agree. Sion mentioned that investors could have torn down the business and removed their creations without ever making a car, or perhaps those investors thought solar cars were too risky. Although we can’t be sure what happened, instead of finding alternative methods to convince them otherwise, the company decided it was best to ask customers for more funds instead of working with the investors.
Despite the challenges of 2019, the organization pushed through it. From testing cars around the globe to expanding the sales horizon to America, it was a process that could fill an entire book if someone wanted to do it. A couple of months ago, CleanTechnica even had a chance to see one in person in the US, where our own Tina Casey concluded that the Sion is worth the wait.
In late 2022, the company again began to run out of funds, finding that without more money it would not be able to produce the Sion. Once again, investors fell through and it decided to launch a campaign to get additional money from customers to bridge the gap.
This campaign, called #SaveSion, aimed to get 3,500 reservation holders to pay for their vehicles in full. They didn’t take money, but asked people to commit to this, and they would only take these funds if enough people committed to it, and they wanted to know for sure that they would actually be able to deliver.
The campaign has been extended and investors have come back to the table
The campaign didn’t raise enough funds in one month to cover production costs, but it made enough progress that the company doesn’t want to throw in the towel. Plus, as they say, “Money talks.” and seeing people pay up front for the car impressed the investors enough to bring some of them back to the table.
“Our plan to send a clear signal to both the market and investors through growing bookings, payment commitments and additional sources of almost 50 million euros seems to be working. We are in ongoing conversations with potential investors and believe that the extension of the campaign positions us to to reach our goal of approximately 100 million euros and continue with the Sion program,” said Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “The commitment of thousands of community members has proven the market demand for Sion once again. The determination we feel from the thousands of calls, emails and personal interactions with the community, combined with the curious feedback from numerous potential investors, allow us to continue both the campaign and our fight for Sion – our affordable, climate-friendly and unparalleled mobility solution.”
The company also gave the media some updated figures. According to a press release, Sion reservations are estimated at over 44,000. These include ~21,000 private bookings with deposit obligations and more than 1,500 new private bookings. In addition, there are approximately 22,000 non-binding B2B pre-orders in place so far. If all these figures result in actual sales, the total net sales volume will be around €1 billion.
Sion’s B2C bookings have soared ever since the campaign started on December 8, 2022, pushing it to its biggest month-over-month increase in private bookings since going public.
So for all these reasons, Sono has decided to extend the campaign.
“Every single day invested in the future is worthwhile, which is why we made the decision to extend the campaign. We’ve already met more than 5,000 people in 13 different cities on our tour across Europe, with thousands experiencing Sion first-hand in test drives, and we’ve just announced 12 more stops on the way,” said Jona Christians, co-founder and CEO for Sono Motors. “We owe it to these pioneers not to give up yet. We owe it to them more time to activate even more people eager to revolutionize mobility. It’s up to all of us now to fight. Fight for Sion, fight for the future and fight for a world without fossil fuels.”
Featured image provided by Sono Motors.
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