Sono ends Sion solar car development

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Sono has failed to crowdsource a rescue fund for its prospective solar-charged Sion MPV.

Sono Motors has axed its solar-charged electric car, the Sion, after failing to crowdsource enough funds to rescue the project.

The German start-up appealed to investors and prospective buyers for further funding through Sion deposits on 8 December, admitting that it had failed to raise enough money through conventional means.

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Sono set a target of 3500 additional reservations. Having failed to reach that milestone, it now plans to sell the car’s development program to “any interested third parties”. This includes all of the relevant intellectual property, including hardware, software and contact information for suppliers.

Around 90% of Sono’s funding requirements for 2023 came from the Sion program, the company said in a statement, and sufficient investment proved difficult to attract as the global economy weakened.

The five-seat MPV, featuring a body uniquely constructed from solar panels, had attracted more than 45,000 reservations and pre-orders, according to Sono.

The firm will begin to repay the deposits paid before its crowdfunding campaign from May, with the first instalment comprising 30 per cent of the original payment. Another 40% will be paid in June 2024 “at the latest” and the remainder – plus a 5 per cent bonus – by January 2025.

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Sono is also encouraging buyers to waive their deposits (or a part of it) to help with the expansion of its solar-panel business, its new focus.

This includes retrofitting solar panels to third-party cars and buses to help operators save energy, reducing carbon emissions. Sono plans to ready a mass-market panel kit for buses by the second quarter of 2023.

Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors, said: “This pivot marks a significant step in Sono Motors’ business development.

“Even though we had to terminate our original passion project, the Sion program, shifting our entire focus to business-to-business solar solutions provides us with an opportunity to continue to create innovative products in the solar space.

“It was a difficult decision, and despite more than 45,000 reservations and pre-orders for the Sion, we were compelled to react to the ongoing financial market instability and streamline our business.“
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That ‘streamlining’ effort will include the redundancy of around 300 staff. Chief operating officer Thomas Hausch has also left the company.

Sono recorded a €43.5 million (AUD$68.1m) loss during the third quarter of 2022. Its stock value has plummeted since the announcement, falling from $0.84 to $0.64. It launched – and peaked – at $24.80 in 2021.

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