Sono Motors has dropped the Sion


The Munich-based start-up Sono has decided to discontinue the Sion programme and not to pursue its own solar car project any further – the Sion is thus history before the first series production example. Instead, they will concentrate on the solar business for B2B customers.

++ This article has been updated. Kindly continue reading below. ++

The #saveSion campaign launched in December was thus not successful. Via a reservation campaign, in which 3,500 vehicles were to be reserved and immediately paid for in full, the company wanted to collect the necessary money to start series production in the second half of 2023 at Valmet Automotive in Finland. Since the 3,500 reservations were not reached within 50 days, Sono had extended the campaign at the end of January until 28 February – and has now drawn a line under the car project just a few days before the deadline.

Interestingly, the company does not even mention the result of the #saveSion campaign in its announcement. It is left open whether the reservations came about or not. Instead, it is implied that the decision against the Sion was of a fundamental nature.

“Termination of the Sion program reflects a decision to focus on a capital-light business model – an estimated 90% of the funding needs for 2023 were generated by the Sion program – in light of depressed capital market conditions. Given the resource-intensive nature of the Sion program, including personnel requirements, the Company is now implementing a significant cost reduction program,” the statement reads verbatim.

Focus on buses and cars from other manufacturers

Co-founder and CEO Laurin Hahn emphasised that the decision was not easy for the management team. “This pivot marks a significant step in Sono Motors’ business development,” Hahn says. “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.”

Instead of the Sion, Sono now plans to focus its resources on its B2B solar business. The company says it is working here as a development partner and supplier in ten markets in Europe, Asia and the USA, including Mitsubishi Europe, Chereau and the two Volkswagen subsidiaries Scania and MAN Truck & Bus. In total, there are probably 23 partners testing the solar solution “in a variety of vehicles, including cars from other OEMs, buses, refrigerated vehicles and motorhomes”.

The manufacturer specifically mentions the next generation of the ‘Solar Bus Kit’, which is scheduled for the second quarter of 2023. This solution can be used not only to equip electric buses, but also to reduce the fuel consumption of diesel buses, if electrical auxiliary consumers are no longer supplied with electricity via the diesel, but via a PV system. In the future, Sono Motors wants to focus specifically on buses and cars from other OEMs.

Sion down-payments to be repaid from May – step by step

This will also incorporate the experience the company has gained with the Sion – for example, on the seamless integration of the half-cells into the car body. However, the capital-intensive car project will not be brought to an end. The payment commitments received as part of the #saveSion campaign will no longer be collected at all, according to the statement. A repayment plan has been worked out for all advance payments made previously. “In terms of Sion reservations with deposits made before the #savesion campaign, the Company announced a payback plan to reimburse in various instalments including a bonus over the next two years,” the statement said. The company does not provide further details on the plan, such as the total volume.

However, not all Sono employees will work on the company’s B2B solar projects in the future. In the wake of the decision to discontinue the Sion programme, Sono Motors plans to lay off about 300 employees. Exactly which areas are affected is not mentioned.

What is clear, however, is that Thomas Hausch will leave the company. The former Daimler and Nissan manager will still support the company in its restructuring, but will then step down from his post as chief operating officer. “Without Thomas’ professional dedication and outstanding character our Sion program would have not made it this far. We are so thankful for his past and future championing of our mission,” says Hahn.

“Unfortunately, my role at Sono Motors to build the first affordable solar electric car is coming to an end. I am personally convinced that sooner or later we will see many SEVs on the road, even without the Sion,” says Hausch himself. “The company and the founders will continue to pursue the vision of a world without fossil fuels, even with the new focus. That makes me feel positive about the future.”

Update 02 March 2023

After the Munich-based start-up Sono Motors decided to discontinue its Sion solar electric car programme, the company is offering to buy the complete Sion programme from interested third parties. As Sono Motors writes on its website, it is about the industrialisation rights and assets to realise the production of the Sion after all.

The company does not mention a purchase price or any hurdles – but interested parties should consider it an “invitation to submit an offer”, as it says. The offer includes all “development and design data based on the last freeze/release, including all test results and certification data/documents”, all hardware (including the vehicles with prototype statuses SVC1, SVC2 and SVC3 as well as tools and parts), the software including the car-sharing app, “all cost data and information on the overall programme” and “all contacts with our suppliers, reservation holders and Sion employees: inside (provided they agree to share data)” and the intellectual property rights relating to the Sion – this includes the parts of the solar technology needed to make the Sion a reality, he said. And a “professional handover by a team that still wants to realise the dream”.

So the complete programme is for sale, not its individual parts. It is not known whether Sono Motors would also agree to a partial sale or whether there are requirements regarding the background or origin of a potential buyer.

On the other hand, the company gives a concrete timetable of the remaining steps until the planned start of production at the end of 2023 – Sono had not yet made this information public in such detail. On the website, interested parties can also view the past design sprints and request the complete technical documentation by email., (update)


about „Sono Motors has dropped the Sion“
26.02.2023 um 21:17
Shame, I had high hopes, but I guess you need more than smoke and mirrors to make a car.

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