The German startup will instead build solar panels for third-party vehicles.
Sono Motors has abandoned plans to build its Sion solar-powered vehicle and will now shift its focus to building solar panels for third-party companies and vehicles. The Munich, Germany-based company was founded in 2016 and even began trading on the NASDAQ late last year as part of a larger effort to attract investors following a near-death insolvency experience. It had initially planned to begin Sion production in Finland later this year but those plans have been shelved.
In early December, Sono managed to raise just over $105 million when it offered interested buyers a €3,000 discount if they pre-ordered a vehicle. The company even traveled to 13 European cities in a now-failed effort to generate interest. The campaign was scheduled to run until February 28 but Sono has now acknowledged the reality.
"We were compelled to react to the ongoing financial market instability and streamline our business," co-founder and CEO Laurin Hahn said. "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."
The company's CEO, Thomas Hausch, is departing and its 300 employees will be made redundant.
Looking ahead, Sono will continue to develop its patented solar technology for integrating solar cells for third-party vehicles such as buses. It already has 23 customers lined up, including Mitsubishi and Volkswagen's MAN and Scania truck divisions. In total, it has customers in 10 European countries, Asia, and the US.
Even though the Sion program is officially dead, Sono continues to believe solar-powered electric vehicles will be viable one day, hence its continued efforts to continue developing and selling panels. One project it's working on is a solar panel kit that can be retrofitted to buses and, perhaps one day, to private electric vehicles like the Tesla Model Y or Hyundai Ioniq 5. The latter automaker is already experimenting with the technology.
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