Sono Motors is unveiling today an updated production design of the Sion, its electric car partially powered by solar panels on the vehicle.
We’ve been reporting on Sono’s effort to bring its electric car with solar integration to market for a while now.
The Sion is equipped with both a battery pack, which can be charged like a regular electric car, and also a system of integrated solar cells that can charge the vehicle – albeit slower.
Adding solar to electric vehicles has so far been mostly superficial and was mainly used to power some auxiliary systems, like on the Fisker Karma and the Toyota Prius, but Sono claims that it adds up to 30 km per day.
Based on previous releases, Sono presented the Sion as a fairly small urban car and a big part of the appeal, along with the solar aspect, was the price.
Now, the company is unveiling a new production series design for the Sion, which is becoming larger and more elongated:
The solar cells also appear to be better integrated in the body and less visible – at least on those pictures.
Mathieu Baudrit, head of Research and Development, Solar Integration, at Sono Motors, commented on the new design:
“After unveiling our first prototype in summer 2017, we continued to develop our solar integration technology, which we have been working on since 2016. The production vehicle will feature full-surface integrated solar cells that are embedded in hard-wearing, resilient polymer and that contribute to the vehicle’s design aesthetic thanks to optimized color matching.”
Last year, Sono announced details about its powertrain. The company said it was aiming for a range of ~155 miles (250 km) with a 35 kWh battery pack.
Sono previously said that it would start €16,000 (~$18,000 USD), but buyers would have to pay an additional fee to acquire the battery pack or pay a monthly fee – similar to the scheme used by Renault with the Zoe in France.
At first, the company said that the battery pack would be around “around €4,000,” but it now expects the price of the battery pack to be €9,500 – bringing the price of the full vehicle to €25,500 (~$29,000).
The vehicle is expected to go into production later this year.
It looks sleek. With this updated version, the solar cells are becoming much less noticeable, but those are only press pictures. I’d like to see how it looks at different angles and in the sun.
Solar integration in electric vehicles has often been gimmicky but this looks like the least gimmicky application so far.
That said, their claim of 30 km of range per day added with solar panels is most likely in ideal conditions. Therefore, make no mistake, this vehicle is very much powered by its battery pack.
If you really want your Sion to be powered by the sun, you are probably better off having a home solar power system and charge your car with it.