Sono Motors Crowdfunds Innovative Electric Car With Solar Panels

A group of young creative thinking Germans have designed a self-chargeable battery-electric car named Sion that uses integrated photovoltaic panels on the body of the vehicle to charge the battery during the day.

To raise funds to produce prototypes for trail runs and crash testing, the Munich-based startup turned to the online Indiegogo crowdfunding platform.

Supporters came through, and the goal of reaching $167,000 (€150,000) was exceeded.

The 14.5-foot long Sion’s roof, hood, sides and rear consist of monocrystalline silicon cells which are covered by an eight-millimeter thick layer of polycarbonate. The material is shatterproof, weather resistant and lightweight.

The surface area can generate up to 18 free electric miles (30 km) of driving range a day.

The Sion not only generates its own electricity, it’s a mobile power unit that can power common electric devices that use a standard household plug.

Two models of the Sion are planned. The Urban has a 14.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack with a range of about 75 miles (120 km), and an estimated cost of $13,200 (€12,000).

The higher end Extender offers a 30 kWh battery pack — the same battery size as the latest Nissan Leaf — that gives the car a 155-mile (250 km) driving range.

Similar to the European Zoe EV, both prices do not include the cost of purchasing or renting the battery.

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Both models are equipped with a 50-kilowatt three-phase synchronous motor, and can speed up to 87 mph (140 kmh).

Up to 43 kilowatts of AC charging (no DC fast charging) enables the Sion to be charged up to 80 percent in 30 minutes.

The five-door EV will have six seats (3 + 3), all of which fold flat individually. A 10-inch display in the center console of both versions allows smartphone connection via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

A feature called breSono integrates moss into the fans which acts as a natural air filter using electromagnetic charge, while also being sound-absorbing.

Sion developers are launching an online maintenance and repair system called reSono. It allows owners to order parts online and a tutorial video can help to install them. Or, take the car and parts to a local automotive repair shop.

Besides the initial donation to Indiegogo, supporters can make a nonbinding pre-order for the Sion. In early 2017 the donor can test drive a car and then decide about buying it.

This pre-sale strategy is intended to enable production by existing auto manufacturers and suppliers with first deliveries aimed for 2018.