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German startup Sono Motors is showing off a solar-electric vehicle that can recharge when driven in daylight.
The Sion looks like a minivan, but the black exterior is covered with 248 polymer solar panels that absorb energy from the sun. As a result, the panels can recharge the car when it’s parked outside or on the move. At CES, Sono Motors debuted its latest Sion prototype, with plans to begin the first round of production next year.
“We engineered the Sion to be the first electric vehicle you can really afford,” says Chief Operating Officer Thomas Hausch, who tips a possible $26,400 starting price.
To achieve the low price, the startup is using off-the-shelf parts, including the electric engine, to build the vehicle. Sono also plans to sell the car exclusively through online direct sales instead of at dealerships. Another cost-cutting technique has involved consolidating the production into one model, which comes only in black.
As an electric car, the Sion can also recharge when hooked up to a power socket at home or via a dedicated charging station. But with the solar panels onboard, an owner can potentially drive their car for four weeks before it runs out of power.
“In Germany, for example, up to 35 kilometers of additional range per day can be generated purely by solar energy (depending on weather conditions),” the company said on its website. On a single charge, the Sion can travel up to 255 kilometers (159 miles.)
The company plans to initially focus on the European market before bringing the Sion to the US. The car is already up for preorder on Sono’s website for €25,500, with the first deliveries expected to arrive in 2022.
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