A munich solar car charges its batteries while driving. For short distances it is a small revolution.
Munich-based start-up sono motors helps shape the future of mobility. laurin hahn and his team are giving their all.
laurin hahn’s face freezes briefly as a fat sedan rolls past him. How could it be otherwise – he is fighting against the internal combustion engine and for the car of the future, as he hopes: the solar car sion. hahn is currently sitting in a prototype with his arms folded. The 26-year-old, who doesn’t have a car himself, is developing the car with his team as CEO of the munich-based start-up sono motors. The sion runs on electricity and charges its battery not only from a wall socket, but also with solar energy. It could revolutionize electromobility.
Technical novelty: solar cells in the car body
248 solar cells are integrated into the 7.5-square-meter body under a layer of polycarbonate just a few millimeters thick – a technical first. When the sun is shining, they provide up to 34 kilometers of additional range per day during the journey. Isn’t that very little? Laurin hahn says, and it sounds like slight defiance, "the average distance for commuters in germany to the workplace is 17 kilometers. This makes the sion the perfect commuter vehicle." with a full battery, the car has a range of just under 255 kilometers, with a top speed of 140 kilometers per hour. When you step on the gas, the car reacts less impulsively than other electric cars. The turning circle of less than eleven meters is smaller than that of many vehicles of its size. The trunk holds 250 liters; there’s a trailer hitch. "We deliberately don’t want to cover the luxury segment," says Hahn. The reindeer lichen (cladonia rangiferina] ensures clean air in the passenger compartment together with a paper filter. The solar car should be suitable as an everyday vehicle for everyone. There will be only one black variant, and the price is 25,500 euros.
Solar car via crowdfunding
Hahn and his partner jona christians – who have known each other since first grade – had the idea back in 2012, after they had passed their final exams at a waldorf school. Later navina pernsteiner joined as the third founder. In the garage, they screwed around on an old renault twingo with the help of youtube tutorials, without any knowledge of mechanics. Christians even had to go to the hospital: he tried to suck gasoline out of the tank with a hose and accidentally swallowed it. Today, sono motors has around 100 employees. Many of them are young and vegan; for them, a car does not express status, but is a means of getting around. The founders raise their money by crowdfunding, as start-ups do these days. With a single campaign, they raised more than 50 million euros in the early 2020s. "something like this is unprecedented," says hahn. In between, the founders were on the verge of bankruptcy. At the time, laurin hahn, who lives in a shared apartment, was sleeping very badly. He woke up at night as if he had just fallen out of bed. But now there are 12,500 pre-orders for the sion. the car is to be built in an old saab factory in trollhattan, sweden.
With a little skill, you can repair the car yourself, because a detailed manual is included. The first vehicles are scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2022. The date has already been postponed several times – among others because of corona. "the vehicle has many strengths. But the time pressure is enormous, as the market is increasingly flooded with affordable models from established manufacturers, also supported by government subsidies," says kurt sigl, president of the bundesverband emobilitat (federal association for mobility). Whether you believe in the start-up or not, it is helping to shape the mobility of the future. And from an ecological point of view, this solar car is more consistent than almost any other. Hahn himself will probably never own a car. But he can certainly sleep well in these times.
The article was published in full in the september 2020 issue of the german national geographic magazine. Never miss an issue again and now a subscribe!