The former Saab plant failed: the people’s electric car Sono Sion moves to Valmet
German electromobility start-up Sono Motors GmbH, based in Munich, has announced that it is forced to change its manufacturing partner: the Finnish company Valmet Automotive will produce Sono Sion compact electric minivans with the ability to recharge from the sun. The start of production is scheduled for the second half of 2023. The price of the Sono Sion had to be raised to 28,500 euros.
Sono Motors GmbH was founded in 2016 and wants to produce the most affordable and environmentally friendly electric family car (5-seat compact MPV) that can be charged from the sun: solar panels integrated into the exterior, mass-painted plastic body panels providing up to 35 km of free mileage per day.
The first prototype of the Sion was shown in 2017, the production start was planned for 2019, but due to lack of funds and the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch date was postponed several times. The latest news on the subject from June last year reported that the launch should begin in the first quarter of 2023. Now a new benchmark has been announced: the second half of 2023, that is, the start of production was late by about six months. This is due to the fact that Sono Motors urgently had to change production partners.
Initially, the Sono Sion was to be produced at the former Saab plant in Trollhättan, Sweden, which is now owned by the Swedish company NEVS, which itself is part of the large Chinese holding Evergrande Group. Evergrande has been in a debt crisis since last year and NEVS is looking for a new owner, but unfortunately so far without success. In general, it is unlikely that the Swedish company will be able to fulfill its agreements with Sono Motors, so the startup had to look for a new site to launch Sion.
Valmet Automotive headquarters in Uusikaupunki.
The new site was the Valmet plant in the Finnish city of Uusikaupunki, founded in 1968 as a Saab-Valmet joint venture. Valmet currently produces two Mercedes-Benz models (A-Class and GLC) and plans to release premium electric liftbacks from Dutch startup Lightyear Lightyear One later this year, which are also equipped with solar panels. Sono Motors’ contract with Valmet is for 7 years and provides for the production of 257,000 vehicles.
Lightyear One and Sono Sion will not compete because they are very different in price: Lightyear One costs 150,000 euros, Sono Sion 28,500 euros, so the difference is huge. Meanwhile, last summer the Sono Sion was priced at just 25,500 euros, but in light of the latest geopolitical turmoil in Europe, inflation has accelerated, production costs have increased when changing factories, so the price had to be raised. In Germany, taking into account the state subsidy for the purchase of an electric car, the Sono Sion will cost 23,950 euros, but this is only for the first 18,500 buyers. As soon as the number of applications exceeds this figure (17,000 already contracted), the price will rise to 29,900 euros (with subsidies – 25,126 euros). For comparison.
Recall that last summer Sono Motors improved the technical characteristics of the Sion. The current configuration includes a 54 kWh battery that will last 305 km on a full charge on the WLTP cycle (not including the solar bonus). The maximum charging power is 75 kW. One 120 kW (163 hp) electric motor drives the front wheels. Up to 100 km / h, the electric compact van accelerates in 9 seconds, the maximum speed is 140 km / h.
The total length of Sono Sion is 4470 mm, width is 1830 mm, height is 1660 mm, wheelbase is 2830 mm, ground clearance is 165 mm. Trunk volume – 650 liters, with the rear seat folded – 1250 liters. The main feature inside is a natural moss air filter built into the front panel, which is included as standard. The Sion has the same equipment, no options and even a choice of colors for the sake of reducing the cost of production: there will be four airbags on board, climate control, cruise control, heated front seats, a 10-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, an audio system with six speakers, rearview camera and rear parking sensors LED headlights.
Sono Sion’s main market is Europe and the company has not yet announced any expansion plans outside of this region.