Martin Meiners

End for SION: Sono Motors discontinues its solar car project

Munich-based solar mobility solutions provider Sono Motors today announced its decision to restructure its business model and focus exclusively on retrofitting and integrating solar technology into third-party vehicles in the future. At the same time, the company has discontinued its Sion program effective immediately. The company’s solar solutions, consisting of hardware, such as power electronics, and software, are already being deployed by 23 business partners in Europe, Asia and the U.S. and are being tested in a variety of vehicles, including cars from other OEMs, buses, refrigerated vehicles and RVs. Fleet operators can benefit from the integration of Sono’s solar technology by saving fuel, costs and CO2, and by contributing to the fight against climate change through this reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The discontinuation of the Sion program reflects the company’s decision to focus on a less capital-intensive business model in the face of poor capital market conditions – approximately 90% of its 2023 financing needs were driven by the Sion program. Because the Sion program was resource intensive, the company is now implementing significant cost-saving measures.

“The restructuring is a crucial step in the development of Sono Motors,” said Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “Even though we had to discontinue our original heart project with the Sion program, shifting our entire focus to B2B solar solutions provides us with the opportunity to continue developing innovative products in the solar industry. Despite more than 45,000 reservations and pre-orders for the Sion, we were forced to respond to the ongoing instability in the financial markets and streamline our business. This was not an easy decision for us to make.”

Sono Motors currently works as a development partner and supplier with companies in ten markets in Europe, Asia and the U.S., including Mitsubishi Europe, CHEREAU and both Volkswagen subsidiaries Scania and MAN Truck & Bus. In the future, Sono Motors plans to focus specifically on buses and cars from other OEMs. The company will now continue to scale its technology, starting with the launch of the next generation “Solar Bus Kit” – a mass-market retrofit solution for greener public transport – planned for the second quarter of 2023. Discussions with potential investors will henceforth focus exclusively on the solar business.

The potential of Sono Motors’ technology is illustrated not only by the company’s partnerships, but also by the European Union. In January, Sono Motors secured €1.46 million in funding from the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (“CINEA”) to advance the development of the company’s proprietary solar technology (“SEAMLESS-PV” project). Sono Motors also announced that it now has a total of 52 patents filed or issued, of which 42 relate to the Company’s proprietary solar technology. This represents a significant increase from ten patents filed or issued at the time of the company’s IPO in November 2021. The number of patents filed or granted also includes patents relating to the same innovation filed in different fields.

According to the company, the successes achieved in the 18-vehicle Sion series validation program were proof that the concept of a solar electric vehicle (SEV) works. Shortly before entering pre-production, the Sion was well on its way to revolutionizing solar technology in the automotive industry. Although Sono Motors has discontinued the Sion program, the company will continue to leverage its patented technologies for ongoing retrofit and integration business. Additionally, Sono Motors intends to sell the Sion program.

For Sion reservations that were prepaid prior to the #savesion campaign, the company has a repayment plan. This provides for repayment in several installments plus a bonus over the next two years, starting with the first installment in May 2023. Sono Motors will not collect the amounts of all payment commitments made under the #savesion campaign since December 8, 2022.

As part of the company’s decision to discontinue the Sion program, Sono Motors plans to lay off approximately 300 employees. In this context, Thomas Hausch has decided to step down from his role as COO. He will still assist the company with its restructuring. “Without Thomas’ professional commitment and outstanding personality, our Sion program would not have come this far. We are very grateful for his efforts so far and his support of our future plans,” said Laurin 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. The company and its founders will continue to pursue the vision of a world without fossil fuels, even with the new focus. That makes me positive for the future,” said Thomas Hausch, COO of Sono Motors.

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24.02.2023   |  

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