At the beginning of the month, I wrote about Sono Motors’ campaign to save its Sion vehicle. For years, CleanTechnica has documented the progress of Sono Sion, from interviews with its officials to the reveal of its car. We’ve been following the company on its journey towards launching a solar-powered vehicle into production. We were sad to report that it is in jeopardy 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, in contrast with 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-seater hatchback with 35 kWh and 400-volt battery pack that yields 120 kW power, while projecting an estimated range of 150 miles like its fellow electric car. The only big difference (other than the solar) on this vehicle however is its rear-wheel drive setup, which will alter driving dynamics but ultimately have very little practical effect for most drivers.
The Sion may just be an ordinary low-end EV, but its remarkable features are what truly make it stand out.
The car’s most impressive attribute is its integrated solar power charging system. Solar cells have been installed on all available surfaces, ranging from the three sunroofs to the doors and hatchback. When conditions are ideal, 19 miles or 1.2 kW worth of charge can be generated in a day — equating to what you would receive with a US Level 1 charger, but without the cord or the emissions associated with grid electricity in most places.
This vehicle is equipped with bidirectional charging, which can be activated through an application. If you have a surplus of energy and wouldn’t mind sharing it with other drivers, the app allows for charging without your presence at all times. Additionally, this model comes pre-installed with a hitch capable of towing up to 1500 pounds — making it especially worthwhile for European customers who don’t drive pickup trucks to work like Americans do.
In 2019, we got numerous emails from readers alerting us concerning the company’s potential difficulties. Clean technology may be thrilling to CleanTechnica enthusiasts and geeks all over the world, but investors tend to be far more prudent with their decisions, and maybe a little too prudent.
We didn’t receive any extra information as to why the inventors and potential financiers weren’t able to come to an agreement. Sion mentioned that investors could have demolished the business and took away their creations without ever crafting a car, or maybe these investments thought solar cars were too risky of an option. Though we cannot be sure what occurred, instead of finding alternative methods in order 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 faced in 2019, the organization pushed through it. From testing cars across the globe to widening sales horizons into America, it was a process that could fill an entire book if someone wanted to do that. A few months ago, CleanTechnica even had a chance to see one in person in the US, with our own Tina Casey concluding that the Sion is worth waiting for.
At the end of 2022, the company started running out of funds again and figured out that without more money it wouldn’t 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 weren’t taking money, but asked people to commit to this, and they’d only take those funds if enough people committed to do it, and they’d know for sure they’d be able to actually deliver.
The Campaign Has Been Extended, & Investors Have Come Back To The Table
The campaign didn’t raise enough funds in a 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 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 reservations, payment commitments, and additional sources of almost €50 million seems to be working. We are in ongoing talks with potential investors and believe that the campaign’s extension positions us to reach our target of approximately €100 million and proceed with the Sion program,” said Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “The engagement of thousands of Community members has proven the market demand for the Sion once again. The determination we feel from the thousands of calls, emails, and personal interactions with the Community, combined with the inquisitive feedback of numerous potential investors, empowers us to continue both the campaign and our fight for the Sion – our affordable, climate-friendly and unparalleled mobility solution.”
The company also gave media some updated figures. According to a press release, Sion reservations are estimated at over 44,000. These include ~21,000 private reservation with deposit commitments and more than 1,500 new private reservations. Additionally there are approximately 22,000 non-binding B2B pre-orders in place thus far. If all these numbers result in actual sales, then the total net sales volume would be about €1 billion.
The Sion’s B2C reservations have skyrocketed ever since the campaign kicked off on the 8th of December 2022, pushing it to its biggest month-over-month increase in private bookings since going public.
So, for all of these reasons, Sono has decided to extend the campaign.
“Every single day invested in the future is worthwhile and that is why we made the decision to extend the campaign. We have already met more than 5,000 people in 13 different cities on our European-wide tour with thousands experiencing the Sion first hand in test drives and we just announced 12 additional stops to come,” said Jona Christians, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “We owe it to these pioneers to not give up yet. We owe them more time to activate even more people eager to revolutionize mobility. It is up to all of us now to fight. Fight for the Sion, fight for the future and fight for a world without fossil fuels.”
Featured image provided by Sono Motors.
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