This crowdfunded electric car integrates solar panels for self-charging

Sono Motors Sion
© Sono Motors

The Sion has seating for 6, a range of 150+ miles, 7.5 square meters of solar cells, an air filtration system that uses moss, and a price of less than $18,000.

A German startup, Sono Motors, has just finished a successful crowdfunding campaign to take its Sion electric car prototype to the next step, and if all goes well over the next year or so, it could go into production as early as 2018. At a time when many auto companies are quickly trying to catch up to the electric car trend with their own electric models (thanks, Tesla), the Sion is one of the only examples of an electric vehicle that includes a self-charging aspect, which could make it the perfect vehicle for enabling free 'fuel' for those with short commutes.

Although the Sion can be charged via a plug like other electric vehicles (EVs), this car also has solar cells integrated into its body, which the developers say are capable of delivering a charge to the vehicle's battery that can power it up to 30 km (18.6 miles) every day. With a top speed of 140 kmh (86 mph), it's not designed to be an electric sports car, by any means, but with seating for 6 and a 250 km range (155 miles), at a price of under $18,000, it just might be the affordable solar electric car we've been waiting for.

According to the company, two different versions of the Sion are planned, the Extender and the Urban, with battery capacities of 30 kWh and 14.4 kWh respectively, with target prices of 16,000€ ($17.600) and 12,000€ ($13,200), and both are said to be capable of taking an 80% charge on their batteries in about 30 minutes. However, there is one major caveat to the pricing of this little EV (which isn't that clear on the Indiegogo page or the company website), which is that the cost of the battery isn't included in the above price, and Sono Motors says it will offer "a monthly battery hire or a single battery purchase" at a price to be determined later.

One interesting feature of the Sion is the planned use of a moss as an air filtration system within the vehicle, about which the website says, "In spite of the naturalness of the moss, it actually requires no care, since the plant draws its water from the air. So breSono regulates humidity in the interior of Sion all by itself. In short, it’s a natural air conditioner." Sono Motors is also planning to offer both an air conditioning system and a trailer hitch as options on the finished vehicles.

Sono currently has a pre-production version of the Sion, but will be using the crowdfunding money to build additional prototypes to offer test drives to backers of the campaign (who are essentially 'reserving' the option to buy one at certain contribution levels) sometime next year, with production expected to begin in 2018. Find out more at Sono Motors.

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