Industry > Business

Here’s your chance to be a ‘part owner’ of a solar EV maker

Want to bet money on Germany’s Sono Motors for a change?

This isn’t a sports car, but it’s kind to the planet. PHOTO FROM SONO MOTORS

If you’re into electric cars, then the name Sono Motors might ring a bell. The German mobility startup made waves with its Sion solar-electric vehicle a while back, promising up to 34km of extra range per day thanks to 248 solar cells that are seamlessly integrated into the body of this compact car. Normal charging on anything from a fast charger to a domestic socket at home is also possible, and the people behind the vehicle claim you’ll be able to drive up to 255km once the 35kWh battery is fully charged. That is, if this solar speed machine ever goes into production. So far, all the company has is a prototype, and now the firm is looking for some serious cash infusion to take things to the next level. This is where you come in.

This is not just an electric car. It is solar-powered, which generates 34km more range. PHOTOS FROM SONO MOTORS

Sono is definitely not your average startup. Like many enterprises beginning the long journey through the tech jungle, the young outfit initially approached conventional Silicon Valley-type investors with its idea, but all the offers it received simply didn’t seem to fit. The team was looking for a middle way between sticking to its values of creating a sustainable mode of transport and satisfying profit-hungry venture capitalists. At some point, the group realized that traditional VC investments would never help the car become a reality. So Sono decided to take a step that is as bold as it is breathtaking: It is now looking to crowdfund its car, and the amount of money it needs is quite big.

On the Sono Motors website, the goal is printed in bold letters for everyone to see: 50 Million. 30 Days. One Goal. That’s right: They are looking for no less than €50 million (P2.8 billion) to continue on their mission to build a sustainable vehicle that is partially solar-powered. This pretty much makes it the biggest crowdfunding campaign ever. And while the sum may seem nuts, people have already invested nearly €3.5 million since the announcement was made, which apparently was just the other day. The company has also taken 10,000 preorders already. All it needs to continue would be 2,000 of those 10,000 prospective buyers putting the whole price down now.

Paying for the car up front isn’t the only way to invest. Anyone can also simply donate an amount or offer Sono a loan. It seems they’ve hit a nerve with their approach, and the ticker is rising steadily. Donations, preorders and investments are accepted from all over the globe, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that this car would be totally perfect for the Philippine market. With plenty of sunshine on tap here, the odds are good that your commute will never cost you another penny for fuel ever again if your drive to work is less than 30km long (and if you drive a Sion, of course). Yep…free, sustainable and environment-friendly motoring. The only people who won’t like that are petroleum industry executives.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.