In January I asked how far we were from a self charging solar car. At the time there was nothing on the market, just two or three prototypes that involve some kind of solar charging. That changed a couple of weeks ago with the launch of the Sion, from German start-up Sono Motors.
Last year Sono ran a successful crowd-funding campaign to develop the vehicle, and at the end of July they unveiled the final design. It’s a family sized car that comes completely clad in solar panels – 330 solar cells, adding up to 7.5 square metres. The company claims that will buy you 30 kilometres of driving most days, with the high efficiency panels able to charge even in cloudy weather. That may be enough for most people on shorter journeys, but a full charge will take the car 155 miles if you’re going further.
There are a couple of unusual features. The natural moss air filter is certainly an odd one. The bi-directional energy flow means you can use the car to run other devices, or even to charge other electric cars if you needed to for some reason. But perhaps the main selling point is that the Sion costs £14,500, or $17,600. That’s a genuinely affordable car, half the price of the much hyped Tesla 3, which is supposed to be the company’s first affordable mass market electric car.
Is it any good? Does it deliver on the self-charging promise? All that remains to be seen. But if Sono get 5,000 pre-orders, it will go into production. So perhaps a self-charging electric car isn’t that far away after all.