German start-up trials solar car that charges as you drive

An employee of German solar car company Sono Motors holds the steering wheel of the Sion prototype in Munich, Germany, August 2018 (Reuters pic)

BERLIN: A Munich-based start-up has taken advantage of the strong Bavarian sun this summer to test the final development of the charging system of its Sion car, an all-electric solar vehicle that lets you charge as you drive.

Germany will likely miss its target of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020 but the government said in April it was ready to offer support to companies that make batteries for electric vehicles.

Sono Motors, founded in 2016, is developing the Sion, a fully-electric vehicle that has solar cells integrated into its bodywork. It can be charged via solar power or from conventional power outlets.

Production will start in the second half of 2019 and the company has more than 6,500 orders which it aims to start selling at US$18,540 (16,000 euros) next year.

Sion will have 330 solar cells attached to the vehicle’s roof, bonnet and sides and its battery system will offer a range of around 250km (155 miles) before it needs recharging.

“We have a seat heater, air conditioning, a large infotainment system where I can also connect my phone interactively, which means I really have a full vehicle which is very simple, no frills,” Laurin Hahn, co-founder and chief executive of the startup told Reuters.