Find out what happened when I tested out the Sono Motors Sion, an EV with solar panels on the outside and moss on the inside. Yes, really.

2y ago

Sono Motors are on a bit of a European tour at the moment with their car, Sion. I caught up with the tour in Maastricht to finally see their prototype cars in the metal, and take one for a little indoor test drive.

Sion is the first electric car capable of charging its battery from the sun, with 330 solar panels integrated into the body panels capable of generating up to 30km range in a day in proper conditions.

Not only that, but the Sion features bidirectional charging, meaning that the car can provide energy to other vehicles and common electrical devices via a Type-2 connection or standard 2-pin EU plug connection.

A battery capacity of between 35kWh and 45kWh (tbc) provides max power of 80kW (109 horses) to a 3-phase asynchronous motor, generating a top speed of 140km/h, and a real-world range of 250km. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in around 9 seconds.

Charging is via standard 2-Pin EU plug at 3.7kW, AC Type-2 at 11kW (2.5 hours to 80% capacity), or DC CCS Rapid-Charging at 50kW (30 minutes to 80% capacity.)

The Sion has a kerb weight of 1,400kg and is capable of towing up to 750kg, which is great news when so many EVs on the market at the moment don't come "tow-ready."

The shape of the car is unusual, sitting fairly low to the ground in person. The front half is reminiscent of the BMW i3, but with strange headlights (that are due to change in the final production version), whereas the back has a boxy height with a hint of Prius+.

The interior is minimalistic, with a 10-inch infotainment screen and not too many excessive buttons. A lot of the interior parts on the prototype cars are recognisable as borrowed from the BMW i3, but this is likely to change with the final production model.

The most fantastically bizarre part of the interior design is the air filtration system (dubbed the breSono) which is a special type of moss that has been integrated into the dashboard. The moss is capable of filtering up to 20% of dust particles through electrostatic attraction, as well as help to regulate cabin humidity. You don't need to water the moss or give it any special care.

I'm going to be honest with you... I am pretty obsessed with this moss.

The prototype model is very clearly a work in progress, and this shows in the driving experience too. The footwell is quite cramped (I'm assured it will be modified in the production version) and the steering firmness is inconsistent at different lock positions. The turning circle is great and the regeneration is strong, making for confident one-pedal driving in most scenarios.

Moss aside, one of the most interesting things about the Sion is the price point. The car is €16,000 without battery (option to lease), or €20,000 with battery included. This is a very competitive price compared to vehicles with similar offerings in terms of size, range, and charging capabilities.

Currently (as I type) there are 7165 reservations placed on the Sion, with first cars due to arrive towards the end of 2019. You can reserve one for a minimum of €500 via the Sono Motors website. Unfortunately for UK friends, there is no solid news on RHD as of yet.

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Comments (17)

  • I am obsessed with that moss too.


      2 years ago
    • Yup, I know. I also wrote of this thing some time ago. And spoke to the Sion team about my publications. Nice guys!

      Personally, I have two issues with the solar power. Its not-more-than-9-hp output with contemporary technologies...

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        2 years ago
    • Agreed.

        2 years ago
  • Solar irradiation (let's be generous and assume summer, clear sky) 1kW/m².

    Efficiency of the best mono-crystalline (those are, they've been sliced from a single cylindrical silicon ingot before doping which is why they have those corners) solar cell 15-20%. Polys aren't quite as good but they're cheaper to make.

    Area of the panels on that hatchback (let's be generous and say they're all optimally positioned) 3-4m².

    Smaller of the two option packs, 35kWh.

    Now, (1kW x 4) x 0.2 = 800W or 0.8kW. That's the very best you'll get out of those panels with direct sunlight in summer, optimally positioned and clean.

    35/0.8? 40 hours continuous direct sunlight, assuming no efficiency issues (impossible) to charge. Sounds pretty good, eh? Sit it on your drive...

    Only I've been very *very* generous in these calculations. In summary, bullpats. Electric vehicles with batteries do not work, no matter how many unicorn turds you bolt onto them. Please ignore the hype and work on something useful like flow cell or H2.

      2 years ago
    • They work for cities and smaller areas like that - but stuff like this is kinda meaningless. If you need long range sustainably you need hydrogen.

        2 years ago
    • Which raises another pertinent point. Most solar arrays are series connected, where the current is dictated by the lowest outputting 0.5V cell. Cities tend to have lamp posts, houses, large buildings, trees and other things that...

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        2 years ago
  • What if you want to drive home at night.

      2 years ago
  • Wow, 30km per day! Who knew life could move at that speed?

      2 years ago
  • That moss is realy interesting, I wonder what happens if it dies? Or where does it come from?

      2 years ago
    • "Mummy, where does the moss in a Sion come from?"

        2 years ago
    • The manufacturer does not expect the moss to die. The moss will probably survive the nuclear war. It is also easily replantable.

      There may be an issue, however, with the filtering quality if you drive a long distance with four people on...

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        2 years ago