Sono Digital: Who we are, what we do and how you can contribute

By Marco Jantke

26th March 2021

The Sono Digital group is in charge of the digital journey for Sion owners and Sono Motors mobility services customers. We develop the Sono App, Infotainment applications for the in-car middle-console touch screen, and the mobility backend.

We also integrate our system with business partners and extend existing electric cars with a retrofitted telematics unit. This allows us to operate connected cars in business pilots to build out our sharing services incrementally.

Three features of the Sion that are developed by Sono Digital.

Sustainable. Mobility. For Everyone.

Our mission is to make every car electric and shared. While our colleagues in the vehicle development team take care of the former, our focus is on the latter: shared mobility. Leveraging digital solutions, we ensure that it is easy, safe, and, of course, convenient to share your car, ride, and battery power. These services are made available to our customers in a smooth user experience flowing seamlessly between Sono App and the Infotainment system. 

Wir streben nach ständiger Verbesserung - in Bezug auf unsere Arbeit, unser Wissen und unsere zwischenmenschlichen Beziehungen.
We strive for constant improvement – regarding our work, our knowledge, and our relationships.

All this requires rigorous engineering, considering our product’s long-term security and scalability and disruptive, innovative thinking.

In the following, we present our tech stack and share a future outlook. We grow our team in most engineering areas. If you want to support our vision of a world without fossil fuels, we would love to get your application.

How We Work

Sono Digital is a cross-functional product team. We are a small group of empowered product managers and experienced UX and software engineering folk. We have our agile-based routines, and on top, we embrace transparent communication. Especially in pure home office times, we try to ensure that information is spread among the team. We use Slack, Confluence, and sometimes email for that. When needed, we organize spontaneous (video) calls. We align and remove impediments as fast as we can, as we are constantly learning.

We adjust our routines when needed. Recently we improved our Daily because we realized it has become too static and the usefulness was questionable. Now the word “meeting” is discouraged, and we aim to speak to a meeting's purpose. The daily has become more useful since. We inspect and adapt.

Die Überprüfung unserer Fortschritte ist ein wichtiger Teil unserer täglichen Arbeit.
Reviewing our progress is an important part of our daily work.

Two to three times a month, we meet with our CEOs to inform them of how things are going and consult their opinion on various matters. A lot of what we do is based on the Scrum framework. Sprint Reviews are usually attended by 10-20% of the company population.

Sono Tech Stack

If you are curious about the technologies we are currently using, please read on. There is an important disclaimer to this section: Our technology stack will change and evolve. New joiners will bring in new and better ideas. Of course, we are learning as we go, which is hopefully reflected in our systems and software architecture.

Mobile App

The Sono App for Android and iOS is currently developed in React Native. It is the most visible part of our development efforts. We use Bitrise for CI/CD to automatically test, build, and publish to the app stores. The parts we are most proud of include a lightning-fast connection from the app to the vehicle, passwordless login, a consistent design system, and success from our code cleanup efforts (see _BottomModalVehicle).

Do you see room for improvement? We do too. Do you want to help to improve? Contact us, and let’s talk about it!

Android Automotive OS

The Infotainment system runs on Android Automotive OS. Our approach is to source “commodity applications” such as media player, Bluetooth integration, and radio application from suppliers. Sono developers will build the applications that make the Sion unique: Solar integration, sharing services, user profiles. An experienced engineer is joining the team in May, and we are looking for additional senior Android folk to join the team.

Mobility Backend

The backend is developed in a MicroService architecture. Most services are written in TypeScript, using TypeORM and hapi, among other libraries. Services that require low-level hardware control, such as the vehicle-connectors, are written in golang. We connect services synchronously through HTTP and asynchronously with a Kafka message broker. For data persistence, we chose the well-established Postgres database.

We are sure this architecture will continue to grow as we dive deeper into specific segments of the various business domains the backend caters to. To achieve this goal, we look for candidates ranging from junior developers to senior software engineers and coding architects with broad experience in scalable, high-transaction applications.

Cloud Infrastructure

We build the Sono platform on Google Cloud using GKE. We chose the Google Cloud because of their credible carbon-reduction strategy, which they have been pursuing since 2007, and that aims to have Google run entirely on renewable energy by 2030.

Our Kubernetes cluster hosts the entire backend. We implemented good SRE practices early on, including infrastructure as code, a blameless post mortem culture, and reproducible builds. So far, things are still pretty raw, but set up to allow for more advanced automation and observability. Technologies we are using include Helm, Prometheus, Grafana, StackDriver, and GitLab CI. These are great open-source software projects, and we thank the many awesome contributors to these outstanding projects.

Third-Party Services

We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. For this reason, we rely on third-party services for CRM (Salesforce Service Cloud), payment (Adyen), transactional emails (Twilio SendGrid), and many other great products.

What to expect

You will be part of our Sono Digital team, an experienced, diverse group with agility in our DNA and a passion for building a future with climate-friendly, resource-conserving, and fair mobility.

We foster an inclusive culture welcoming mistakes, asking questions, searching for ways to improve for the customer, the team, and yourself. If you embrace these principles, we are excited that you join our journey.

UX designer Bozhana, UI designer Martina, and Head of Product Johannes discussing project progress.

Sono Motors values your lifestyle choices. Our Sono Digital team is headquartered in Munich. We believe it to be valuable to meet in-person for EventStorming or have profound product discussions. Most GyShiDo work can be done in a remote setup, though. 

Communication is key, and we have good synchronous tools as well as asynchronous processes in place. We support part-time work with a minimum commitment of 30 hours per week and want to provide an inclusive work environment that matches your personal needs. Did this article make you curious? Great, then submit your CV, and let’s talk soon.

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