One Community, One Car: Insights From the First Sono Motors App Pilot Project

By Johannes

4th June 2020

The Sono mobility services are designed to make the Sion accessible to as many people as possible. They are the fundamentals of our holistic mobility concept. To validate our product and get early feedback, we have started an exciting pilot project together with a group of volunteers.

A few weeks ago we gave you an insight into how we are proceeding with the development of solar integration. Today we will focus on how as many people as possible can benefit from the Sion. Our mobility services play a decisive role in this. We offer three services in one vehicle and one application: Power Sharing, Ride Pooling, and Car Sharing.

Since all three focus on sharing, the Sion can be used far more efficiently than other vehicles. These services are grounded in our conviction that the future of vehicles lies in shared use.

The various services can be accessed via the app.
The various services can be accessed via the app.

Early Testing Leads to Early Feedback

However, before as many people as possible can use our mobility services, there is a lot of work to be done. Besides the conceptual development and the technical implementation, the validation of the product and its features plays an essential role.

Of course, the results are only satisfying if we achieve them under realistic conditions. Also, there are a variety of use cases that we can only fully comprehend in contact with potential users. This feedback is enormously helpful when it comes to developing mobility services that meet the needs of our users. 

Including customers in the development process as early as possible is decisive in modern product development. This way you receive direct feedback useful for further pilot projects. Luckily, at the beginning of February, we were able to recruit the first participants for our pilot project “Haus im Viertel”.

A slightly different office – product manager Arif tests the app's functions at the vehicle.
A slightly different office – product manager Arif tests the app's functions at the vehicle.

One Community, One Car

We decided to pilot our first mobility services in a multi-party residential building in Munich's Maxvorstadt district. In this way, we could guarantee close supervision of the project while being on-site quickly in case of any problems. Furthermore, the neighborhood allowed us to conduct regular interviews and stay in close contact with the project's participants.

Eight people had the opportunity to share a Renault ZOE provided by us for about six weeks. Each participant got access to the Sono app to reserve the car and to enable sharing in the house community. The app was updated every two weeks with new features or improvements.

The participants who used the mobility services for six weeks.
The participants who used the mobility services for six weeks.

While testing, we focused on three questions. First: Are residents of a household community willing to share a vehicle? Second: Do the users take care of the vehicle? Do they recharge it? Do they leave it clean? Thirdly: Can the vehicle be financially self-sufficient in such use?

Of course, we also wanted to know for what purposes the participants would use the vehicle: Getting to work? Visiting the family? Larger purchases? The results are very revealing and help us to gain a better understanding of the use cases which we now can integrate into the app.

Incidentally, our colleague Noël met two of the participants, Antonia and Philipp, with his camera and asked them about their experience with the app and its services.

What Happens Next?

The team is very satisfied with the progress of the first pilot project. We were able to find important answers to our questions and validate our assumptions. Even while the project was running, we decided to expand the circle of participants and further test the services' conditions with a broader, more anonymous group of people. We call it “Das Viertel” or “The District”, advancing from piloting one house community to piloting several. 

Here, a group of people share a vehicle, who do not know each other personally. The relationship of trust is completely different, leading to different assumptions and results. However, this is another exciting use case that is crucial for the development of the Sono Motors app.

Additionally, future pilots are already being planned. This will also involve ridepooling, the sharing of rides among users. For this, we will bring our mobility services to more rural areas where the concept of ridepooling is not as common as it is in cities. 

Application purposes for the Sono app are numerous. Our team receives new input from the community every day and we are looking forward to testing our services in everyday life.

For further pilot projects, we are always looking for participants and interview partners. So if you are interested in the development of the Sono mobility services, please contact us here.

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