Sono Motors will stop with immediate effect its solar passenger car development project, the Sion. The Munich-based company decided to pivot its business model to exclusively retrofitting and integrating its solar technology onto third-party vehicles, the company stated in a press release.
The company’s solar solutions, including hardware such as power electronics and software, are already in application today. 23 customers are piloting Sono Motors’ integrated solar technology on a variety of vehicles, including third-party OEM cars, buses, refrigerated vehicles, and recreational vehicles. Fleet operators can benefit from integrating the technology to save fuel, costs, and CO2.
Termination of the Sion program reflects a decision to focus on a capital-light business model in light of depressed capital market conditions. About 90 percent of the funding needs were related to the Sion program. Given the resource-intensive nature of the Sion program, including personnel requirements, the company is now implementing a significant cost reduction program.
“This pivot marks a significant step in Sono Motors’ business development,” said Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “Even though we had to terminate our original passion project, the Sion program, shifting our entire focus to business-to-business solar solutions provides us with an opportunity to continue to create innovative products in the solar space. It was a difficult decision and 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.“
Focus on third-party cars
Sono Motors is currently working as a development partner and supplier with companies across ten countries in the world. Customers include Mitsubishi Europe, CHEREAU, and two Volkswagen subsidiaries – Scania and MAN Truck & Bus. Going forward, Sono Motors intends to focus specifically on buses and third-party OEM cars. The company will now scale up its technology, starting with the introduction of the next generation of its mass-market-ready retrofit solution for cleaner public transportation — the ‘Solar Bus Kit’ — planned for the second quarter of 2023. Talks with potential investors will now exclusively focus on solar technology.
Sion program to be sold
The success of Sion’s 18-vehicle series-validation program was, in the company’s view, proof 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. In terms of Sion reservations with deposits made before the #savesion campaign, the company announced a payback plan to reimburse in various installments including a bonus over the next two years. Although Sono Motors has terminated the Sion program, the company will continue to utilize patented technology developed in its ongoing integration and retrofit business. On top, Sono Motors intends to sell its Sion program.
In light of the company’s decision to terminate the Sion program, the company plans the redundancy of approximately 300 employees. In this context, Thomas Hausch has decided to step down from his role as COO but will support the company’s transition. “Without Thomas’ professional dedication and outstanding character, our Sion program would have not made it this far. We are so thankful for his past and future championing of our mission”, said Laurin Hahn.
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