SUVs are often seen as a symbol of gas-guzzling excess. But what if you could drive an SUV that was powered by the sun (aka solar energy) and it only cost $25,000?
The German company Sono Motors is now accepting preorders in the US for an electric SUV covered in solar panels and it hopes the electric vehicle will be the first of many of its kind.
“We think it has the potential to become a mainstream technology,” CEO Laurin Hahn told CNBC. “Our mission is solar on every vehicle because there is no point of not putting it on it. It is very cost-effective. It doesn’t add a lot of costs onto the bill of material for the car. So there’s actually no reason why not to integrate it.”
The vehicle, called the Sion, should emerge on the European market halfway through 2023. A total of 456 half solar cells are built into the car itself, which allows it to travel an extra approximately 70 miles per week on average to its battery, according Sono. The cells are integrated throughout the car.
In addition to the solar panels, the vehicle's battery allows it to travel around 190 miles on a single charge, according to Sono. It takes 35 minutes to charge the battery 85 percent at a conventional fast electric charging station. However, if you live in a sunny environment and don’t have to drive very far, you could get away with never charging the car with anything but the sun.
The new car is cheaper than most U.S. EVs at $25,000, says CNBC. However, since it is not made in the U.S., it won’t be eligible for tax incentives. Hahn said the company kept costs down in four ways:
It contracted Finnish company Valmet Automotive to manufacture the cars.
It only offers one version of the car.
It sells it directly online instead of through dealerships.
It uses only aluminum, not steel.
It doesn’t require any paint because the solar panels supply the color.
“This car comes in any color you like as long as it’s black,” Hahn said.
Currently, there are 42,000 reservations for the car in Europe, according to Valmet Automotive. And they want to make 257,000 Sions by 2030.
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