German electric car start-up Sono Motors is moving from the testing phase to the production phase in their efforts to develop a solar-powered battery pack on wheels. Sono has contracted with NEVs in Sweden to kickstart production at the old Saab plant in Trollhattan, according to Automotive News Europe. NEVs purchased Saab’s remaining assets when it folded. The plan is to build 43,000 cars per year for the next 8 years.

The Sono Motors Sion has been in testing since 2017, and the car maker says it is ready to build the compact city car that harnesses the power of the sun to improve the car’s daily usable range. The Sion is constructed of carbon fiber panels bolted to an aluminum monocoque with a rack of batteries in the back and an electric motor powering the front wheels. The car is said to weigh about 3000 pounds total.

Sono claims the car has a range of 155 miles, but on a sunny day the car’s external solar panels, baked into the bodywork, will add an extra 21 miles to that total. Further, the car can be used as a portable generator with an auxilary power port, and with bi-directional charging integrated, the Sion can be used as a home power wall during power outages, or it will share its charge with another EV in a pinch.  

This is an ambitious project, and I’m interested to see if the startup can actually reach the numbers it claims. In previous reports from Sono, the car was quoted to start at 16,000 euros with a monthly-charge battery lease tacked on top of that. According to Automotive News, the all-in cost of a new Sion will be about 25,500 euros. Sono claims it has already secured 9,800 pre-orders for the car.