Monday, February 26, 2024

This Solar-Powered Car Is Hitting the Road in 2023

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Sono Motors’ electric vehicle is powered by the sun.

A car that charges itself via the power of the sun may sound like something straight out of a Back to the Future film. But car manufacturer Sono Motors has made it a reality. 

The German carmaker is set to launch a solar-powered electric vehicle in Europe in mid-2023.

Called the Sion, the car is surprisingly affordable—it’s priced at €29,900, about $31,000. 

Sono Motors Sion
The Sion launches in Europe in 2023. | Courtesy Sono Motors

It has 465 solar half cells integrated into the body of the car, giving the electric vehicle a sun-powered range of about 70 miles per week. For longer trips, the car also contains a lithium iron phosphate battery that can be recharged at standard charging stations, giving it a range of about 190 miles.

The car’s solar panels aren’t its only unusual feature. The spacious electric hatchback also has moss across the dashboard.

In addition to providing a “pleasant” ambience, the company says the moss helps to improve the interior air quality. According to Sono, it helps to filter out particular air matter by up to 20 percent. 

Solar-powered car

Founded in 2016, Sono has yet to announce a U.S. release. However, in October 2022, the brand debuted the futuristic vehicle stateside.

During the three-week tour, the car was showcased in a number of cities, including New York City, Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

“To be honest, we think the Sion cuts quite a fine figure beneath the palm trees,” Julius Zimmer, Sono’s creative director, said in regards to the latter stop.

Sion electric car and woman in red
The Sion is available for preorder now. | Courtesy Sono Motors

Available for preorder now, the company aims to produce 257,000 Sions by 2030. There’s only one caveat: you can only order the car in black. 

In addition to opting for contract manufacturing—which essentially allows Sono to lease equipment and a production space—the company’s able to keep costs down by only offering one variant.

“This car comes in any color you like as long as it’s black,” the company’s CEO, Laurin Hahn, explained. “So basically there’s no options. That’s massive in saving costs.”

The company is also able to cut costs by offering online direct sales and by eschewing paint. “There is no paint job because it has solar panels on the outside,” Hahn added. “For those things, we can be so affordable.”

‘Climate-friendly mobility’

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector accounts for 27 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

On a mission to promote “climate-friendly mobility,” Sono Motors is dedicated to reducing global carbon emissions. 

All unavoidable carbon emissions produced are offset throughout the manufacturing process. Its cars are produced using 100 percent renewable energy. Offices feature refurbished electronics. It boasts a no flight policy for trips of under 600 kilometers. And it only offers its employees organic and vegan food offerings. 

Sono Motors Sion interior
The solar-powered car features moss on the dashboard. | Courtesy Sono Motors

“Our biggest savings potential is by far the Sion,” Hahn wrote on Twitter. “One of the most sustainable EVs, if not THE most sustainable EV (as it gets much of its energy directly from the sun).”

But the Sion is more than just a sustainable car, according to the brand. It features its own energy storage system. Called the Sono Wallbox, the “sustainable power plant for the home” is designed to allow users to self-sufficiently supply their homes with energy for up to five days.

The Sion’s solar technology can also be retrofitted into buses and trucks to help improve public transportation systems.

On November 17, Sono debuted an electric bus powered with the company’s solar technology. The solar-powered bus, which was born in collaboration with digital equipment manufacturer Pepper Motion GMBH, will explore the streets of Europe for a two-year test phase.

Despite all of these innovations, Sono understands that in terms of being a truly planet-friendly brand, there is always more work to do. 

“Is the company I founded really sustainable? Short answer: NO,” Hahn tweeted. “Not yet—but there’s a good chance to become it soon.”

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