German Carmaker Puts Solar Panels on Electric Vehicles

It’s all about sustainable, renewable energy these days. For several countries, reducing their environmental footprint will involve phasing out internal combustion engines for electric vehicles over the next decade or so. Not only are they cheaper to run and maintain, but they also reduce vehicle emissions, thus reducing our impact on the environment. One Munich-based company has taken things even further by combining their EV with solar charging capabilities.

Thanks to the solar charging system integrated into the EV’s body, it will benefit from an extended range of as much as 20 miles per day in Germany. Sono Motors, which is based in Munich, is planning on selling its electric car, the Sion, from 2022. The firm recently raised nearly $60 million in a 50-day crowd-funding campaign and according to marketing director Ann-Kathrin Schroeder, the capital should allow Sono Motors to build its prototypes and tool up its production and testing facilities.

A 35-kilowatt-hour battery containing 192 prismatic lithium-ion cells with a nickel, manganese, and cobalt ratio of 6:2:2 will power the vehicle. According to Sono Motors, it will have a 159-mile range on a single charge, with the battery taking about 30 minutes to recharge up to 80% at a rapid charging station. On top of that, it will also feature a novel moss-based dashboard air purifying system. However, that’s not the most exciting thing about the Sion. The exterior vehicle will be covered in 248 solar cells embedded in polymer.

The viSono body panels are designed to deliver up to 220 watts of juice per square meter, compared to 180 watts for standard PV. “This enables the Sion, through the power of the sun alone, to generate an additional range of up to 3,600 miles per year, completely emission-free and free of charge,” says Schroeder. According to Sono, the actual range of the solar extension will depend on weather conditions, with the Sion gaining up to 2 extra miles per day in December or 15 in July in average Munich weather. Cloudy conditions could reduce this to 2 and 6 miles while sunshine could bump it up to 6 and 12 miles respectively.

“This makes the car ideal for commuters who do an average of 17 kilometers a day to get to work,” says Schroeder. “Our goal is to cover many short trips with solar energy only. We are convinced that solar integration can further support e-mobility in achieving a breakthrough in the mass market.”

It would be great to hear what major players in the EV market like ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. Ltd. (NASDAQ: SOLO) have to say about the commercial viability of putting solar panels on car bodies.

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