Sono is a electric start up company which is still in its early stages. Two teenagers set up Sono Motors in January 2016 in Munich Germany. Even though they set up the company in 2016, the founders built the first prototype of the Sono Sion in 2015. The CEO claimed that he made the first prototype of the Sono Sion by hand.
Solar Powered Sono Sion
The Sono Sion has a unique method to power up its batteries without a charging station. The car is a Minivan and has ample room on its exterior where the company has mounted solar panels. These next-gen solar panels provide juice for the battery which powers the car. The car has solar panels on its multiple exterior surfaces. These solar panels act as an auxiliary charger for the vehicle.
Vertical surfaces such as roof and front bonnet contain majority of the solar panels. As more surface area is facing towards the sky these panels will produce more energy. Solar panels are present on all the doors of the car as well as the space below the rear glass which is above the trunk.
The car can charge itself in diffused sunlight as well. Sometimes energy from the sun is just not enough to charge the vehicles. Due to this, Sono has provided a 2 way charging socket which charges the vehicle using 11KW AC charging socket. Two way charging socket means that the car can charge as well as discharge from the charging point provided in the front of the car. This feature is very helpful for people who like to go on camping trips and need to carry their electric grills or any other electrical equipment.
Sono Sion has a battery capacity of 54 KWh which gives 155 miles of driving. The installed battery is a Lithium Iron Phosphate(LFP) battery which is used in the Chinese made Tesla Model 3. The company chose the batteries according to the car’s need. There are certain characteristics of the battery that make it suitable for the vehicle. The LFP battery has the ability to charge up to a 100% capacity without damage for a number of times. Due to this property of LFP batteries, the designers chose it to be installed in the Sono Sion. There is a high possibility that the car battery will charge up to 100% most times due to the presence of solar panels. This means that the LFP battery is able to withstand more charge-discharge cycles and has more life than other batteries.
The fascinating thing about the Sono Sion is that, it can add up to 21.6 miles of range to the battery by utilizing solar panels mounted on the car. These 21.6 miles covers the average daily commute of a Munich driver. Thus, the driver can drive the car by incurring virtually no additional expenses on charging the vehicle. This is a corner case and will only be possible in sunny days when solar generation is adequate. In winters, when no sun is available the driver can charge the car using a traditional charger.
The car has various charging sockets for different needs of the customers. One can charge a Tesla with the on-board bi-directional 11KW AC charging plug. The Sono Sion also provides inverter back-up in case of a power failure. The car can be seamlessly connected to the home using a standard wire. This can balance the power demands of the vehicle and home. Such technologies also make the electricity grid more stable and less prone to shut downs and grid failures. One can also power various equipment using these plugs. Sono was the first company to install usable plugs on their vehicles for bi-directional charging and discharging.
The interior of the vehicle is very minimalist and based on a fully electric architecture. Due to this, the cost of the electric vehicle has reduced dramatically while simultaneously increasing comfort. There are two screens in the vehicle. The interior of the vehicle is still in the works. The infotainment screen is very informative and has a lot of features. Full list of features is not yet available. The driver can see a detailed power flow pattern of the vehicle on the center console of the vehicle.
In the latest prototype of the Sono Sion, the engineers have changed the position of motor present in the car. In the previous versions the car was a rear motor drive that means the motor was mounted on the back axle. The newer version hosts the motor on the front axle of the vehicle which means that the latest prototype is a front wheel drive. This form of drive is the most popular drive in current Internal Combustion Engine vehicles.
The newer version of the Sono Sion is longer in length. The solar panels on top of the car are neatly integrated and can’t be easily recognized. The goal of the company is to make an affordable, mass market and family friendly electric vehicle. The company seems to be on the right track and will likely achieve their goal. In addition to a family friendly car, the Sono Sion is also a good option for a variety of ride hailing companies looking to go electric. In the newer Sion, the company has completely integrated its Mobile App which can perform various actions remotely.
The car is Matt Black in color. Black absorbs the most amount of light and thus, it has more efficiency. Light is necessary for the vehicle to charge in the sun. Basically, the car is just like a giant solar cooker. Every aspect of the vehicle is built for conservation of energy. The battery can also charge when the driver is driving the car.
The company has placed solar panels with a maximum power output of 1.25 KW on the vehicle which is more than any other vehicle. In addition to this, they have developed their own Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) control system which gives optimal generation and storage of electrical energy.
This vehicle is still in the prototype stage. The company has priced the vehicle at 25000 Euros. Such cars will push the electric vehicle market to evolve in to something better and more diverse. This vehicle has a great opportunity as it is affordable as well as has a moderate range and can seat a family of 6 comfortably.