German Startup Sono Motors Aims to Have EV With Solar Panels Available by 2019

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【Summary】Sono Motors, a startup out of Germany, is working on an electric vehicle with a vast array of solar panels that will help charge the car while driving.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Oct 16, 2018 5:00 PM PT
German Startup Sono Motors Aims to Have EV With Solar Panels Available by 2019

Depending on where a charger gets its source of energy, a case can be made for electric vehicles being charged by the sun. Recently, I got to spend some time with a 2018 Kia Niro PHEV that I hooked up to a solar charger at my local park. While not all of the energy came from the sun, the solar panel allowed the vehicle to get some charge for free because of that giant orange ball in the sky. 

To cut out the middle man, some automakers have come out with solar roof options for their electric vehicles. Toyota unveiled a solar roof option for the 2017 Prius Prime and the Fisker Karma from way back when had one, too. Other brands are expected to forge ahead with solar roofs on electric vehicles, most notably Tesla, as a way of getting extra juice while driving. 

Sion Has 330 Solar Cells For An Extra 18 Miles Of Range

One of those brands is a German startup called Sono Motors. The startup, as Quartz reports, claims it will commence testing of what it believes will be the first affordable electric vehicle, which is called the Sion, with a battery pack that can get some extra power from the sun. 

As the outlet states, the vehicle is covered with 330 solar cells alongside the entire body – not just on its roof like some of the vehicles available today. The solar panels aren't for show, either, as the company claims that they add an additional 30 km (18. 6 miles) of range. And, with an unnamed battery size, the vehicle is expected to have a range of 250 km (155 miles) when fully charged. 

"It's not a solar car that you can only drive when it's sunny, it's an electric car that recharges itself," said Laurin Hahn, one of the founders of Sono Motors. "Imagine a combustion engine car where a guy fills up your tank every day, for free, with a few liters." 

Taking The Hassle Out Of Recharging

The extra 30 km (18.6 miles) of range that the solar panels brings is crucial to Sono Motors, as Quartz states that drivers in Germany drive 22 km (13.67 miles) on average per day. That means, drivers would be able to get to their location without needing to plug their vehicle into a charger. But on the off chance that it does need to be charged, the Sion will reportedly allow for fast charging, which can fill up the EV in 30 minutes. 

Unlike other companies, Sono Motors didn't reach out to another company to get solar panels, but created their own, which they integrated into the vehicle. "Obviously, you can't just take those solar panels from the roof [of a house], because they're not break resistant, etcetera. And you have very high automotive standards," Hahn told the outlet. "So we developed a special solar module…with a 24 percent conversion, that's actually used in space technology." 

Sono Motors hopes to manufacture 200,000 Sion electric vehicles within the next eight years, claims the outlet. And the vehicle is set to cost €16,000 ($18,300), plus an additional €4,000 ($4,650.32) for the battery. The vehicle is expected to come out in 2019. 

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