A new electric vehicle is set to hit the market in the U.S. from upstart German automaker Sono Motors, but the company’s claim that the Sion is an affordable — and practical — solar-powered vehicle is raising eyebrows.
As usual, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Sion’s exterior is made up of dark blue solar panels, with a total of 456 “solar half-cells” covering the vehicle’s body from front to back, according to Observer.
Sono boasts that the Sion is the first passenger vehicle to rely heavily on solar power and has a lower price point than most electric vehicles at $25,000. Last month, Sono brought the car on a seven-city tour of the U.S.
So, how much energy do the solar panels provide?
According to Sono, the Sion’s solar energy cells provide around 70 miles of driving range on average per week and 150 miles a week in sunny conditions. The company also says the car’s battery offers a 190-mile range on a single charge.
Experts aren’t convinced of the claims.
“Whether they can provide an extra 70 miles a week is debatable,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an EV analyst for Guidehouse Insights.
“The fundamental problem is that the panels will only be at their peak generating capacity when the sun’s rays are hitting them at a 90-degree angle of incidence. And cars, by their nature, are moving, which means the panels aren’t usually at an optimal angle.”
We’ve already become very aware of how unreliable charging stations and the charging capacity of EVs are. True to form, it takes over half an hour to charge the Sion to 80 percent, according to Sion’s website.
Would you ever buy an EV?
Adding to these issues, you have a car whose solar energy panels are little more than a novelty.
An expensive novelty, at that. Having worked as a car insurance claims adjuster previously, I can tell you that vehicles such as the Sion are more sensitive to collisions and damages are much more costly to repair.
If what matters to you in a car is reliability and ease of use, the Sion probably isn’t the car for you. We’re still a long way from the sun — or any “alternative” energy source — reliably and efficiently powering our vehicles.
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