There is no doubt that for many car owners, electric is the future. That fits rather nicely into a world where renewables are the order of the day. Generating fossil fuels by any other means than digging them up somewhat limits their production, but of course electricity can be generated in a number of other ways including solar.
However, solar power has not always been at the top of the list in terms of powering cars, despite lots of research and a range of technological advances it is still not quite there in terms of power production. Well, not until now anyway; the German start up Sono Motors is about to launch a solar powered car that also uses more traditional EV tech which means it has real world effectiveness and application.
The idea of an EV with solar PV cells may not have been at the top of ever manufacturers list but it certainly got the attention of a huge number of backers through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The company managed to raise over $200,000 in just a few months; not bad seeing as their target was only $150,000. This shows there are clearly a lot of people interested in the use of solar in automotive applications, but it also shows there are people that understand that the way forward is to use plug in and solar initially.
Sono are looking to launch two versions of the car called a Sion. There will be a version called Urban which has a fully charged range of around 75 miles and one called the Extender with a 155 mile range full charged. Both cars have PV cells on the roof and Sono claim they will be able to travel around 18 miles per day on solar alone. The prices look interesting too with the Urban coming it at around $13,000 or £10,000 and the Extender priced at just $18,000 or around £13,000. The really interesting thing about the German firms plan is that the battery is not factored into the price and is likely to be hired which avoids a lot of the worry about long term efficiency of the cells. The news keeps getting better too because rather than potential hefty garage bills for servicing and the like,Sono aim to produce instructional videos to help owners carry out their own basic maintenance.
With the average journey taken by car each day being only between 13 and 20 miles depending where you live in the world the level of range offered by the Sion could suit a lot of people. Couple that with the fact the cars spend around 90% of their day sat around outside and you have a recipe for very efficient private travel. On top of these two points there is also the further solar factor of being able to provide some of the “plug-in” power for the longer charges from roof and garage PV cells. All in all the future, at least where Sono is concerned, is very exciting and very solar!
It is highly likely, as with many innovative ideas, that larger players will be getting in on the act but Sono set to have models available for testing as soon as 2017. This means they might just beat some slower, larger companies to the punch. That being said the G-Wiz was very much a small entry into the EV market and was soon over taken by models like the Nissan Leaf but whatever happens we have to commend Sono for getting the Sion moving and bringing solar that little bit closer to an automotive staple.