The green driver’s dream of a solar self-charging EV are set to be realised in Germany, with Munich-based start-up Sono Motors reaching the final stages of trialing a fully electric car with integrated PV panels.
Reuters reports the start-up company, founded in 2016, is using the northern summer to test the final development of the charging system of its Sion car, which can be charged via solar or from conventional charging points.
The solar component of the car is made up of 330 integrated PV cells covering the roof, both sides, the hood and the rear, which are in turn coated with “shatterproof” and weather resistant polycarbonate.
Sono says that with the right conditions, the solar cells can generate enough energy to cover 30km per day. The car has an overall range of 250km.
In a display on the dashboard, drivers can see the number of kilometres generated through the “viSono” solar charging system. After 24 hours, these kilometres are transferred to the total range left.
The company also points to the car’s “bidirectional charging” ability, “biSono”, which means the car can be used as a mobile power station, able to power all common household electronic devices with up to 2.7kW, using a regular power plug.
“You can plug in your electronic devices and power them with the Sions battery,” the website says. “Over a type 2 plug the Sion can provide even more power with up to 7.6 kW.”
The cost of the solar car appears to be quite cheap, too at €16,000 ($25,000) “battery not included.”
Sono says it does not include the cost of the battery – which is currently stated at €4,000 – because “we always want to offer you the latest and best price available.”
Sion buyers can buy the battery outright, or for rent or lease it for a monthly fee.
And the company assures that maintenance of the car – presumably including those solar panels – is also kept low, thanks to “inexpensive spare parts.”
“With one mouse click you can order most of the cars components. Our workshop manual is freely accessible, whether you’re a private person or a car dealer,” the website says.
The company says it plans to start manufacturing the solar EVs in the second half of 2019 and according to the website has more than 6,600 pre-orders – which are available to drivers worldwide – notched up already.
“We have a seat heater, there is air conditioning, there is a large infotainment system where I can also connect my phone interactively, which means I really have a full vehicle which is very simple, has no frills,” Laurin Hahn, co-founder and chief executive of the startup told Reuters.
While much talked about, not much of any substance has been done in the way of solar integrated cars, as yet – in the commercial market, at least.
Ford released a PV integrated hybrid EV concept back in 2014 called C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, which – topped with SunPower PV – doesn’t seem to have made real-world progress.
Otherwise, they tend to come in the form of the space-aged looking, purpose built solar racing cars pictured above, although various of the university groups behind those solar racing cars have promised to make family friendly street legal versions.
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.