Sono Wants You to Share

Imagine that you’ve decided to start a company selling products. Presumably one of your goals is to make money. One of the typical ways of making money in a product-producing business is to sell products, the more the better.

Sono Motors is a German automotive startup.

What probably makes things somewhat more difficult for the company than would be the case were it to be producing vehicles of a somewhat conventional nature: the Sion, it’s forthcoming vehicle, is described as “the world’s first affordable solar electric vehicle.”

I’m not even aware of unaffordable solar electric vehicles.

The company says that it has more than 18,000 reservations for the Sion.

Of course reservations aren’t sales.

Sono Motors has developed an app. The Sono Carsharing app.

Sono. A solar car. And a car-sharing app. (Image: Sono)

The company says this is meant to address the 43 million or so vehicles in Germany that are driven for an average one hour per day.

Regardless of the brand, the app will allow vehicle owners to share their vehicles.

Johannes Bückle, Head of Product at Sono Digital, said, “Three things were important for us when designing the Sono Carsharing app: how can we reduce the number of cars on our roads while at the same time increasing the utilization of all the vehicles that are just standing around, and also, as a higher-level goal, make significantly more efficient use of vehicles as a resource? The concept originally developed exclusively for the Sion was not enough for us, so we expanded the scope to include all private cars.”

Think about that: the company is working, on the one hand, to get its Sion on the road, but on the other, reducing the number of Sion (and other vehicles) being on the road.

Possibly a noble undertaking but certainly a strange way to start a car business.

Sono Has a Bright Idea

One of the types of energy for transportation that doesn’t get very much attention is solar. Certainly unless you live in Arizona or some place like that solar tech is probably not as efficient as plugging in an electric vehicle and letting the grid do the work. Yet when it comes to renewable energy for transportation, the Sun is more beneficial than the Local Electric Utility.

Sono Motors, a German company, is working to develop solar-powered transportation, as in the Sion, a solar-powered passenger car for which it has more than 18,000 reservations.

But it also sees other applications.

Delivery vehicle uses solar energy. (Image: Sono Motors)

So the company, looking to amass data on how well solar works in places including Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern—which are certainly not Phoenix, Tucson or Sedona—is working with the Rhenus Group, a logistics service provider, integrating solar modules onto a 15-tonne test vehicle that will be used for last-mile logistics.

Jonas von Frieling, Head of Innovation Hub for the Rhenus Home Delivery and Rhenus High Tech, points out, “If there is a widespread switch in transport to electric drives, supply must grow accordingly. Solar cells on vehicles could relieve the grid in the process and offer respite for fleet managers by easing the burden on charging infrastructure.”

A point that would be beneficial for other logistics providers to take into account as they make their transitions to EVs. Wherever they’re located.