The Future Is Solar

By Laurin

24th February 2023

We announced today that Sono Motors will pivot to a purely solar tech company and that we have terminated the Sion program.

Before we go into details, we first want to sincerely thank each and every person who has supported us over the years on our journey. Thank you to our strong and loyal Community, without whom we would never have come this far. It is your support that has been the backbone of Sono Motors and we owe so much to you. You have been with us through every step of our journey. 

A Long Road, Together Side by Side

We see it before us like it was yesterday — the small garage, us in the Twingo. Founding the company with Navina in 2016. Our first crowdfunding campaign. The first release event with the SVC1. Our test drive tours all over Europe. The incredible #staysono campaign with over €50 million in pledges. The launch of the SVC2 at CES. Valmet Automotive as a contract manufacturer. The development and production of the series-validation vehicles. And to top it all off, the successful crash tests. Throughout this whole journey you, our Community, have been our cornerstone. You have been with us through thick and thin and we are truly so grateful for every moment that we have shared together.

We are extremely saddened that we have terminated the Sion program so close to bringing it to the streets. We are still fully committed to making a real difference in mobility and making every vehicle solar. Therefore we have made the decision to continue with our solar B2B business. This was a very difficult decision, as you can imagine, and we do not take it lightly.

What Happens Now?

We will pivot our business model to exclusively retrofitting and integrating our solar technology onto third party vehicles. This marks a significant next step in Sono Motors’ business development. Our technology is already in application today, with 23 B2B customers across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. piloting our integrated solar technology on a variety of vehicle architectures, including third-party OEM cars, buses, refrigerated vehicles, and recreation vehicles. An estimated 90% of our funding needs for 2023 were generated by the Sion program and therefore in light of the circumstances such as market depression, we made the decision to terminate the Sion program. 

Despite more than 45,000 reservations and pre-orders for the Sion, we were compelled to react to the ongoing financial market instability and streamline our business. Given also the resource intensive nature of the Sion program, including personnel requirements, we are now implementing a significant cost reduction program. This includes the redundancy of approximately 300 employees. This is not a decision we take lightly and we are incredibly grateful for their hard work and dedication to Sono Motors. 

The success of the Sion’s recent 18-vehicle series-validation program was proof to us that the concept of a solar electric vehicle (SEV) works. Just before entering pre-series production, the Sion was on a trajectory to become a disruptor in the automotive solar technology industry. We continue to believe that it is a solution both wanted by and needed for everyday people, demonstrated by our Community’s unwavering support, but had to take this step in light of depressed capital market conditions.

Why Didn’t It Work Out?

Various circumstances, not all of which were within our sphere of influence, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, led to the current situation. There are three main reasons included in this:

  • First, we weren’t able to convince investors in light of the ongoing financial market instability to invest in a capital-intensive hardware product.
  • Second, It is also unfortunate that despite this want and need that our government does not see sustainable solutions for mobility in the same way. We received hardly any governmental support and raised over 330 million euro since 2016, and less than 1% of that came from the state.
  • Third, decisions we made in the past, especially in the early days of Sono Motors, also led to this situation. We underestimated how difficult it is to raise the necessary funds. Any delays caused by fundraising or other factors had an impact on development and thus the timeline, which in turn required again more funding. 

In terms of Sion reservations with deposits made before the #savesion campaign, the Company has a payback plan to reimburse in various installments including a bonus over the next two years, starting with the first installment in May 2023. Sono Motors will not withdraw any money from the payment commitments made during the #savesion campaign.

Although we have terminated the Sion program, we will continue to utilize the patented technology we have developed in our solar business. 

Remaining Faithful to Our Mission

Our revenue-generating solar business has been going from strength to strength and we are currently already working as a development-partner and supplier with companies across ten countries in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. Customers include Mitsubishi Europe, CHEREAU, and two Volkswagen subsidiaries – Scania and MAN Truck & Bus. Going forward, we intend to focus specifically on buses and third-party OEM cars, and will now scale up our technology. We will start with the introduction of the next generation of our mass-market ready retrofit solution for cleaner public transportation — the ‘Solar Bus Kit’ — planned for the second quarter of 2023. And as we will now exclusively focus on solar technology, talks with potential investors progress.

The potential of our technology has been validated not only by our commercial partnerships, but also by the European Union. In January, we secured €1.46 million in funding from the EU Commission’s European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (“CINEA”) to advance the development of the Company’s proprietary solar technology (‘SEAMLESS-PV’ project). We had also announced 52 patents granted or filed.

The Future Is Solar

This move means we can continue our mission of ‘solar on every vehicle’ and provide solutions that can benefit the lives of everyday people around the world, by reducing greenhouse emissions. The time for this mission is now, and our technology is ready to implement it. 

We thank each of you again for your support over the years. We would not have come this far without you, our awesome Community.

This is not the end. The future is solar. For a world without fossil fuels.

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