Thanks to advances in battery technology there’s at least one company building a “solar-powered car that will be available “for everyone.” That’s the promise of the Sion, a car created by Sono Motors. The car sports integrated solar cells throughout the body of the vehicle. It’s even designed to be family friendly with six seats and optional trailer coupling. You won’t be winning a NASCAR event with a top speed of 140 km/h, but this certainly might help us all win that bigger “race” that has a lot of people worried these days.
The underlying technology of this solar-powered car is the viSono system. The roof, bonnet, rear, and entire bodywork of the vehicle consist of highly efficient monocrystalline silicon cells which are covered by an 8mm layer of polycarbonate. One of the more notable elements of the solar panels is that they are “unbreakable,” according to the company. They’re also, thankfully, weather-resistant. With an area of 7.5m2 the vehicle can generate 30 “free” kilometers in a single day.
Aside from the solar panels, one of the more unique elements of Sion is the natural air filter (breSono system), which is made of a special moss that automatically pulls moisture from the air and acts as a natural air conditioner. It’s also designed to capture fine dust particles and absorb sound to enhance the driving experience.
Since maintenance considerations is an important component of any car purchase, there is a reSono program for Sion owners; it guarantees favorable maintenance costs thanks to inexpensive spare parts. To help cut costs even further, there’s a DIY component to the car; on the reSono website, users are provided with an instruction catalog and video tutorials to help users do their own repairs. The repair guides are also royalty free, enabling any number of independent repair shops across the globe to fix the car as needed.
Sion comes in two different models. The Extender is priced at $17,600 with a range of 250km, a 30kWh battery, and a 40-minute charge time to fill the battery to 80%. It also can be charged by using a standard household plug. The Urban sells for $13,200, has a range of 120km, and a 14.4kWh battery.
So far the Sion crowdfunding campaign has raised just over €195,000 which is 120% of their original goal—the campaign was fully funded as of September 5th. Pre-orders to reserve a test drive start at €100. The estimated test drive dates are for February 2017 while the estimated delivery date is currently 2018.
According to the Risks and Challenges section of the campaign page, test drives of the solar-powered vehicle are limited to areas with significant demand. For countries with 50 pre-orders or more, test drives will occur in the capital city. For countries with 200 pre-orders or more, test drives will be offered in several cities chosen by Sono Motors. The times are also determined by the creators, and it’s up to the customers to cover lodging and travel expenses.
The target regions for Sion are the European Union, Switzerland, Great Britain, India, Canada, the US, and Australia. Start your engi-, er, batteries, folks; Solar-powered cars are a-comin’…
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