A gray, unadorned industrial building in the north of Munich. Probably built sometime in the 70 years. Insignificant, by no means representative, and not at all suitable for the glamor of the state capital. Apart from Sono Motors, other companies have rented space. Several bicycles, a few Tesla and a prototype of the Sion are parked in the yard. Access to the press and public areas is right after the entrance.
The much more exciting part of the building is in the rear area. There the Sion is developed. He is protected by a barrier, and that remains for us at least today. Ever been a guest at one of the established manufacturers? The external visitors expect representative spaces, fine materials and the large program that celebrates the successful industry. Nothing is left to chance and everything is staged down to the smallest detail.
Not so with Sono Motors.
Because not only the construction is functional, the entrance area is also. A reception desk, it seems self-built, in the background the big company logo on a wall with green moss. This should probably demonstrate the closeness to nature and sustainability. And it's the same moss that's supposed to clean the air in Sion. We are greeted warmly and notice that at Sono you seem to be an integral part of the corporate culture.
Sustainability, the conservation of resources
Mark and I are a bit too early and have to wait. In the corner is parked a prototype of the Sion, opposite a sofa landscape, on which young employees sit, communicate and work with notebooks. I use the time and watch the scene. The team is young, mostly well under 30 years. The atmosphere is relaxed, relaxed. No car company, you feel like you are on the campus of a computer company. We will not stay alone for long.
An employee will be aware of us, explains the Sion and tells about the company. Who cares about us is employee number 1. The first of now almost 90 people working for the fast growing startup in Munich. He knows the company from the beginning. Sono Motors, he tells us, lives sustainability. Consistent and not just lip service. The interior of the building is an example. She finds a second life here, as she comes partly from demolition projects in the Munich area and was re-worked or rebuilt for the new headquarters. This is lived conservation of resources.
The company - the conversation
Actually, the founders Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians would have wanted to answer our questions. They are still in another appointment, so Alexa Rauscher and Tanja Wenisch from the press department want to answer our questions.
I know the game in conversations of this kind from both sides of the table. On the one hand sits someone who is looking for an answer, on the other someone who can not, may or may not give. This happens especially if you are still halfway unknown and the meeting means a kind of get-to-know. That's how it went in our case. Many questions could not be answered, or not sufficiently clarified. What's up is that Sono is a company on the move and many things are not finalized yet. Frustrating for me at that moment, but understandable from the perspective of Sono. Because before the team are still very exciting and eventful months.
The Trollhattan question
After all, the Trollhättan question and why you look for NEVS and the Saab factory has decided, finds a first explanation. The Swedes are committed to producing green electricity that has convinced sustainable thinking and the vision of future mobility at Stallbacka. At least that's a difference to the big contract manufacturers. How NEVS wants to fulfill the agreement in the current Swedish electricity mix remains unclear for the moment. Like other things too.
Questions about future production, which are really interesting, we do not clarify. The Sion is based on an aluminum space-frame concept and is the first electric vehicle in the world to have large-scale integrated solar cells. A challenge for the series. Experience in the production of such a vehicle but have neither Sono Motors nor NEVS show. And how will the people of Munich both ensure quality and protect their own technology?
I get a first explanation a few days later. There will be an open-house event at headquarters, and a plan of the Saab plant will be publicly displayed. 2020 will divide the production into 3 sections, and in one of them only Sono employees will have access.
A large workshop chain could take over the service
Production in Sweden suggests that Orio could be on board as a NEVS logistics partner. But Orio AB is not involved in the project, neither as a logistician nor will the Orio workshop network be involved. Instead, the service for the Sion could take over a large chain of workshops in Germany, but the topic does not seem final yet. Still, the prospect of making a Sion wait at a certain chain makes me shudder.
My curious question as to when the pre-series will start remains as open as many other detailed questions. We learn basics about Sono Motors. Suppliers are committed to sustainability and fair pay for employees, the Sono Workshop Manual is freely accessible and any workshop that is interested can provide the service for the electric car.
Time passes too fast, we cover the appointment considerably, the meeting room is already assigned to the next group. We spontaneously move to the entrance area and sit in the prototype. Unfortunately, this has just been worked on, we can not start the software.
We start for a little walk around the building. Some pictures of the resulting meeting room and the lounge area are allowed. Everywhere employees are busy with notebooks, the meeting rooms have names that are important for the history of the company. A room is called Trollhättan. Naturally. I have to take a picture!
Made in Trollhättan. And Laurin Hahn.
The door with the Trollhättan sign opens, with the founders Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians coming out. A short hello, and I remember the two "Made in Trollhattan by Trolls" stickers, which I actually wanted to stick to the Sion in an unobserved moment. The moment did not exist, Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians get the stickers as a gift with a short explanation of the history. Jona Christians disappears after a short while, and Laurin Hahn asks us to talk.
A few sentences about Trollhättan, his positive impression of the city and the former Saab factory. We talk about Saab and the sales strategy of Sono Motors. A private sharing fleet could exist, private customers remain in any case in the focus. Not a matter of course at a time when some companies are philosophizing about whether they want to sell only to fleet operators in the future.
The appointment is at the end, in front of me are a few hours highway. It was interesting, but was the event a success and what I expected to happen in a startup that wants to make a major difference to our mobility? I have to think about that. Because the hardware is missing, the Sion is the key to the future and reveals something about the company philosophy. Does he have the chance to succeed? We will clarify that in the next few days.