Exterior, Sion solar-powered electric car

Imagine an $18,000 electric vehicle that charges itself using solar power. It’s on the way in 2019.

The new Sion Solar Car is the first mass-produced electric car that can charge itself with integrated solar energy capacity. The compact minivan by the German startup, Sono Motors, has 330 monocrystalline solar cells built into the body. Located in the sides, roof, and rear of the car’s exterior, its solar cells add up to an extra 18 miles to its 155-mile range.

This innovative car will provide features not currently available from mainstream automakers.

A Mobile Solar Power Plant

The Sion electric car has an impressive backup power feature that allows bi-directional power transfer between the car and the power outlet. It’s bidirectional charging capabilities enable the Sion to power additional devices, including electric vehicles or electronics that use a household electrical plug. In emergencies, the lithium-ion battery can provide up to 2.7 kW of electricity for devices, making it especially versatile and useful. These features are built into the car and don’t require additional hardware to utilize.

One Sion charging another Sion
The Sion’s bidirectional charging capabilities enables it to power additional devices, including other electric vehicles. Image: Sono Motors

viSono: Advanced Solar Charging Capabilities

The 35 kW battery can receive supplemental power during daylight hours with the viSono solar charging system totaling 1,200 watts of supplemental power per day. The car needs to be parked outside to charge and the exact amount of power generated depends on the available solar radiation. The Sion also has plug-in capabilities that allow it to charge more quickly.

Sono Motors plans is to produce and sell 260,000 all-black vehicles, starting at $18,200. The 5-seat hatchback features a polycarbonate exterior that makes the vehicle efficient and lightweight, enabling it to drive further with less energy. 

Natural Air Filtration System

The unique features of the Sion are visible even in the car’s interior. Moss in the dashboard filters the air and removes 20 percent of the fine dust particles missed by the air filtration system. It also pulls moisture from the air in humid conditions and adds it back when moisture levels drop. Sono Motors expects the moss to last a few years before needing to be replaced.

Sion interior
Moss in the Sion’s dashboard removes fine dust particles missed by the air filtration system. Photo: Sono Motors

Sono Motors: An Owner-Managed Startup

What began as a garage project for two friends dedicated to reducing carbon dioxide emissions has turned into a startup company that is ready to launch its first product. Sono Motors has successfully used crowdfunding campaigns and crowd investing opportunities to enable product development and production. The solar-powered car is currently undergoing testing before it is expected to hit the European market in 2019. 

The first prototype was produced in 2017 and has gained a lot of attention, especially in Europe. Production of this electric vehicle is expected to start in the second half of 2019 and Continental will produce the Sion’s motor. To date, over 8,800 customers have already reserved vehicles.

Feature image: the Sion, courtesy of Sono Motors


By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.