• Solar On EV

SONO Sion – A “Practical” Solar Powered Electric Car

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

SONO Sion – a simple low-cost wagon cross-over solar EV. No advanced features, with simple interior and looks, a full-sized passenger vehicle, a more minivan style that may also be used as a small delivery.


This start-up company, SONO, also secured a total of €100mil investment after a Series C funding in late 2020.


A SONO Sion solar-powered car running under the sun.
Picture of SONO Sion

How practical is SONO Sion?


So, what’s the difference from others? Aptera? Lightyear One?


It’s all about practicality. The company started off building a practical “Solar Car”, a small, low-cost EV with solar on its surface. They expand their focus now on Vehicles integrated Photovoltaics (VIPV), i.e., PV on transports.


Back to the EV, SONO Sino, what have they done so far?

- no outstanding performance

- battery range at only 305km

- avg. 112km mileage gain per week (~16km daily) from the solar recharging

- comes in black only with solar cells all over

- a rather dull design overall

- and expect delivery at some time in 2023

with

- standard five seaters and spacious interior

- high renewables / solar energy design in focus

- reasonably priced at €25500 only (about US$30,000)

- practical overall

- and over 13,000 pre-ordered customers;


I see a real "Solar-Assisted Car” or "Solar Powered Car" entering the markets. They achieve this by designing a particular solar cell that is seamlessly integrated into the vehicle body.


In fact, anywhere there is a "flat surface", on the top, on the sides, and the back. So it will still recharge when the sun is not shining on your roof. I don't know if this is necessary. I do see the benefits if you live near the poles where the sun is always on an angle.



The Solar Performance


They did not provide much information about their solar cells. Based on the limited info, I believe the solar cells bring only moderate performance. With the leaping forwards of solar efficiency in recent years, a specially designed solar cell with only average efficiency will have to stick with SONO for at least a few years. It limits the potential of the vehicle’s solar charging ability.


It may not be the case.


When I ran the “Solar Gain Calculator” on SONO Sion, I found something interesting.

Remember we mentioned the two main factors to make a good “Solar Car”, or “Solar Powered Car”. It is the solar efficiency and the vehicle’s energy efficiency (the motor). SONO Sion’s energy efficiency is 181kWh/1km.


So what does that mean? See the comparison below,


Tesla Cybertruck Tri Motor 267 kWh/km

SONO Sion (2023) 181 kWh/km

Nissan Leaf e+ 172 kWh/km

Tesla Model S Plaid 168 kWh/km

Tesla Model 3 Long Rang Dual Motor 151 kWh/km

Lightyear One (2022) 104 kWh/km

Aptera 100 kWh/km

Wuling Hongguang Mini EV 81.2 kWh/km


Cybertruck is the worst, 267kWh/km. But it’s a truck with 3 motors for immense towing power.



SONO Sion's Future


SONO’s counterparts, Lightyear ONE and Aptera, are just about 100kWh/km. At the same time, it was also beaten by Nissan Leaf and the world’s fastest EV, Tesla Model S Plaid.


They are all priced higher than SONO Sion, except Wuling Hongguang Mini EV. It may be how they keep the cost down to create this “practical”, “affordable electric car” with solar.


Wuling Hongguang Mini EV won the most efficient of all, and this is why we compared Wuling with Aptera on, "what-if" it becomes solar-powered in the Aptera's article.


Solar Electric Vehicles is a journey. No matter how it is going to proceed. A new era is coming, and a new technology transformation has begun.




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