Solar Car Start-Up Before New Round of Financing: Sono Wants to Collect Millions of Euros

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An electric car with the outer skin of solar cells for only 20,000 euros. Inside switches and buttons already produced for other automobile brands. Factory finished carsharing functions and all of the founders under 30 years old — Sono Motors is probably Germany’s most unusual car start-up.

Whether the electric five-door creation will be built as planned at the end of 2019 in larger quantities is still open. But it is undeniable that Sono Motors has come quite far compared to their low budget. Now the startup is entering a new round of financing to mass-produce its Sion model.

So far, the start-up founded in 2016 has had financed through crowdfunding and the down payments for car reservations. In 2017, several investors joined in, among them, the automotive supplier Group Böllinger and the founder of the energy service provider Juvi. A double-digit (of the low tens) amount of millions came together.

Now the sums are bigger: In the just started financing round Sono Motors wants to collect a mid-double-digit million amount, as Sono co-founder Laurin Hahn and CFO Martin Sabbione said.

Sono counts on four sources of money, with the possibility to collect 100 million euros

In the new financing round, Sono is focusing on four different cash channels: First, the start-up has reached to those 8,000 investors who have already reserved their electric car and collected a down payment. Sono has received another five million euros from these investors. Sono is now launching a new public crowd investing campaign.

In addition, the Bavarian asset manager CAV launches a special fund for Sono, which is aimed at wealthy private individuals and provides for a minimum investment of 200,000 euros. The aim of the fund is to raise around 15 million euros in capital. In parallel, Sono Motors is also negotiating with institutional investors about a possible entry. The professional investors, with whom Sono is talking about, according to the statement of their financial boss Sabbione come “rather from the financial environment”.

Sabbione explained: If the capital increase succeeds as planned, Sono Motors would come to a rating of “at least 100 million euros”.

No own factory planned, but a lot of competition for the Sion in 2020

With the money Sono Motors wants to keep up with its ambitious schedule: By the end of 2019, it will start with the serial production of the Sion. According to Sono — cofounder Hahn, the assemblies are already largely certified. At the beginning of the year, the crash tests necessary for series approval are still pending. Hahn also mentioned that the simulations for those are already running and are so far promising, but how far and how good the polycarbonate shell of the Sion then holds in real situations has yet to be proven in real life.

For the actual entry into mass production, Sono will probably still need another round of financing, as the start-up itself suggests. The young in the Munich-based company is trying to keep costs as low as possible. Sono does not plan its own factory, the production is going to take action over a contract with a manufacturer from the European area.

The Sion also does not need pressing tools or painting works — its outer look consists of polycarbonate and solar cells. That alone, say the people at Sono, save them hundreds of millions in development.

The Sono company will have to adjust to a lot of competition if they do manage to get the approval for Sion and it actually comes on the market in 2020, In addition to luxurious electric models from Audi, Mercedes, and BMW, the VW brand will also have its electric mass model “Neo” on the market. The VW car is likely to cost a good 30,000 euros that is 10,000 euros more than the Sion. However, the Sono electric car has a range of about 250 kilometers on a single charge, at the same time VW promises for the Neo about 500 kilometers range.

Sion is more likely to be a family car

The Sion is more likely to be a family car and already offers the factory-carsharing function, the opportunity to rent the car in minutes, hours or days to others. “We have a relatively large number of inquiries from small car sharing providers and local authorities,” says Hahn. In no case, Sono does not seek direct competition with the powerful German automotive industry: in the coming years, Sono should become a mobility and energy service provider, not a giant car producer.

However, Sono is not ambition-free because of this: firstly, a few months ago, the start-up teamed up with Thomas Hausch, a cooperator with decades of experience in the classic car industry. On the other hand, Sono ‘s goal is to sell at least 100,000 Sion cars over the entire life cycle of the car — that means to produce at least 10,000 vehicles per year. This is a rather small number for car giants like Volkswagen — but not negligible either.

Marko Vidrih

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