Sono Motors unveils the final design of its solar-charged Sion EV – TechCrunch

Sono Motors this week unveiled the final production design of the Sion EV, a solar electric vehicle that has been in production since the Munich-based startup launched in 2016.

It’s been a long and bumpy road for Sono Motors, a journey that has involved a few crowdfunding campaigns, near insolvency and a Nasdaq stock market debut as a publicly traded company.

The solar-powered fruits of this rather tumultuous labor were showcased at his lively “Celebrate the Sun” community event. Sion’s solar-powered electric vehicle took center stage. However, another product called the Solar Bus Kit, a series of solar panels designed for installation on 12-meter public buses, suggests the company has bigger plans beyond a single passenger vehicle.

The question, of course, is can Sono Motors produce and sell the EV in volume? And how?

Sono aims to begin deliveries of the Sion in the second half of 2023 to customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The company did not provide any indication of how many Sions will be delivered next year. The only metric it shared is that it plans to manufacture 43,000 Sions a year with a production capacity of 257,000 over seven years, according to a company spokesperson.

However, even the best-funded EV startups have struggled to get to production recently. Sono has faced a series of challenges since its IPO in November last year, from falling stock prices to changing manufacturing partners, and its path to production and delivery is likely to continue. be bumpy given the current market and supply chain uncertainty.

Let’s break down what this company is doing:

Zion’s final production design

The Sion will consist of 456 integrated solar half-cells that will capture the sun’s energy and enable self-sufficiency on shorter trips. Picture credits: PA Engines

The Sion is a compact five-door hatchback and wagon that will retail for €25,126 (~$25,628 at today’s conversion). Its outer envelope will be made up of 456 integrated solar half-cells that will collect the sun’s energy and allow self-sufficiency on shorter journeys. Of course, the vehicle will still use a traditional charger to refuel, but the constant drip feed from solar power should be enough to support most city trips, according to the company.

The car’s 54 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery has a range of around 190 miles. Sono expects the power generated by the solar cells to extend that by an average of 70 miles, and up to 152 miles, each week. Additionally, the Sion is built with bi-directional charging technology, which allows commuters to use energy stored in the battery (~11kW) to power homes or other electronics.

Other improvements to the exterior and interior of the final design include a sleeker and cleaner vehicle, according to Sono.

The exterior has new headlights including a new daylight strip, taillights, rear camera, lower side design and a revamped front cargo cover. There are also new door handles, photos of which show the words “made to be shared” — a nod to Sono’s hopes of integrating this car into fleets.

Sono says paid bookings have increased from 13,000 last November to more than 19,000. This could mean a net sales volume of 415 million euros if all bookings result in sales. With an average down payment of €2,225, Sono could have more than €42 million in the bank to help him transition into production.

(By the way, if these numbers – €19,000 x €25,126 – don’t quite add up, it’s because the price of Sion has changed over time and previous backers are grandfathered in their original prices, says a company spokesperson.)

To reduce costs, Sono Motors relied on outsourcing the manufacturing and distribution of its vehicles. Previously, Sono planned to partner with NEVS, the Swedish electric vehicle maker which acquired the assets of bankrupt Saab Automobile in 2012. But NEVS’ parent company, Evergrande, is deeply in debt and is still trying to sell NEVS, which still struggling to put its Saab 9-3 into production.

Sono shifted gears in April and signed a contract with a new partner, Valmet Automotivewhich manufactures in Finland.

The solar bus kit

Bird's eye view of sono motors solar bus kit -- solar panels on top of a green bus

Sono’s solar bus kit includes 8 square meters of solar panels that provide approximately 1.4kW during peak installation. Picture credits: PA Engines

While Sono’s solar bus kit can’t turn a diesel pumped bus into an eco-friendly hybrid, it can take some of the emissions out of the equation.

The kit, which has been standardized to work with “virtually all European bus fleets”, can save up to 1,500 liters of diesel and up to 4 tonnes of CO2 per bus per year, according to the company. Its total size of about 8 square meters of solar panels provides about 1.4 kW to the peak installation. This solar energy can be used to power a bus’s subsystems such as the HVAC.

Sono said bus fleet operators expect a potential payback period of around three to four years, depending on how sunny the days of operation are and fuel prices.

At CES 2021, Sono said it would license its solar panel technology to other companies as an additional revenue stream, and this new bus kit is part of that move to diversify the business.

Since its IPO, Sono says it has letters of intent, pilots and prototypes underway for 19 companies that are implementing the company’s solar technology on a variety of vehicle architectures, like buses, trailers, trucks and electric transporters. For example, Sono recently piloted a solar bus trailer in Munich provide backup power for public transport. Sono also has in partnership with the Reefer groupmanufacturer of refrigerated semi-trailers, to build a solar trailer to be tested.

The company said its B2B solar business is already generating revenue, more details of which will be shared during the company’s earnings call in September. Sono shares have fallen since its debut, losing nearly 93% of its value, so the company will certainly need to earn another revenue stream as it ramps up for production next year.

Why Sono stock took a hit

When Sono Group, the parent company of Sono Motors, began trading, it opened at $20.06 after the IPO was initially priced at $15. The shares hit a high of $38.74 before the market closed on the first day. As of this writing, Sono Group is trading at $2.64, a drop that has continued even after the company revealed the production version of the Sion.

It seems the buzz around EV startups has started to die down.

In May, Sono closed its previously announced underwritten follow-on offering of 10 million common shares, with an additional 1.5 million shares available to underwriters – including Cantor Fitzgerald and B. Riley Securities – at an even higher discount. important.

Sono said it earned $40 million in gross proceeds from the offer, which it used to fund the start of production of its Sion, but investors are likely to see the offer as an offer that devalues ​​even more. the actions.

Comments are closed.