Sono Motors, the solar-powered EV company we’ve written about before, is looking for help. Starting up a company is no small task, and starting an automobile manufacturer is harder still. After getting at odds with investors, Sono decided to take a very different approach: ask the overall EV community to help fund it instead.
“During this process of numerous negotiations with investors from all over the globe, we realized that the expectations of the classical investment world and our values in fact, do not match.” the company said, in a statement on its website’s homepage. “We faced the risk of losing our key technologies to investors, who do not share our convictions. This would have been the end of the project Sion; the end of what we have promised.”
Sono has set an ambitious goal of raising €50 million. As of this writing, its website says that it has raised just under €20 million. According to the company, the 50 million is needed to secure “our next steps, such as testing our vehicles, setting up production facilities at our partners and producing series prototypes” without involving investors that require loss of control over the company and its intellectual property.
To raise the money, the company is basically doing a crowdfunding campaign, like many others, where nobody gives them anything unless it meets or exceeds the goal through pledges. To help, people can do one of three things:
- Give the company a donation
- For people who pre-ordered a Sion vehicle, increase the down payment.
- Loan the company money to be paid back with interest at some point.
People reserving a Sono Sion will get “Sono Points” that entitle them to a share of the company’s future profits, as detailed here.
The company doesn’t give us a great amount of detail about what happened with investors, and what exactly the sticking points were, but some of our readers (who emailed news tips to us about this story) interpreted this crowdfunding campaign as desperation on the company’s part. One even told us “It looks like Sono is in deep trouble!”
We don’t know enough to determine whether Sono is in trouble, but this is definitely an unusual move in starting and continuing an automaker. The €50 million amount seems outlandish at first blush, but at the same time it wouldn’t set any records. Elio Motors raised almost twice that much, and a video game managed to raise almost five times the amount Sono is looking for.
The Sion does seem like a very important vehicle, so hopefully Sono does come up with a way to get this campaign off the ground by its deadline of December 30.