Sono Motors has killed the Sion solar electric passenger car project, the EV startup has announced in a statement.

Effective today, the company will pivot its business model to “exclusively retrofitting and integrating its solar technology onto third party vehicles.” Sono Motors says the termination of the Sion program reflects a decision “to focus on a capital-light business model in light of depressed capital market conditions.”

The Sion solar EV placed a heavy burden on the company’s budget since an estimated 90 percent of the funding needs for 2023 were generated by the solar passenger car project.

The Munich-based company noted that it is now implementing a significant cost reduction program given the resource-intensive nature of the Sion program, including personnel requirements. In this context, Sono Motors plans to lay off approximately 300 employees.

So what happens with the 45,000 paid reservations for the Sono Sion? Well, the company announced a payback plan to reimburse in various installments including a bonus over the next two years.

“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.”

Laurin Hahn, co-founder and CEO of Sono Motors

Gallery: Sono Sion SEV Production Spec

The Sion solar EV may not be gone for good, though. Sono Motors said the success of the Sion’s 18-vehicle series-validation program proved that the concept of a solar electric vehicle (SEV) works. As a result, it intends to sell the program; it remains to be seen if that will materialize.

The company added that it will continue to utilize patented technology developed in the Sion program in its ongoing integration and retrofit business. Sono Motors aims to focus specifically on buses and third-party OEM cars, in addition to refrigerated trucks and recreational vehicles.

It is currently working as a development-partner and supplier with 23 companies across ten countries in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Customers include Mitsubishi Europe, Chereau, Scania, and MAN Truck & Bus. 

Sono Motors 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. The company’s solar solutions also include hardware such as power electronics and software.

Source: Sono Motors

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