Sono Motors the company - we experience sustainability

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.

Sono Motors in Munich. In the foreground the Sion, company logo at the back building
Sono Motors in Munich. In the foreground the Sion, company logo at the back building

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!

Yes, seriously. Room Trollhättan at Sono Motors
Yes, seriously. Room Trollhättan at Sono Motors

Made in Trollhättan. And Laurin Hahn.

The door with the Trollhättan sign opens and the founders Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians come out. A short hello, and I remember the two “Made in Trollhättan by Trolls” stickers, which I actually wanted to stick on the Sion in an unobserved moment. There was no moment, Laurin Hahn and Jona Christians receive the stickers as a gift with a brief explanation of the history. With a "something can be made of it", Jona Christians disappears after a short time, and Laurin Hahn asks us in for a chat.

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.

22 thoughts too "Sono Motors the company - we experience sustainability"

  • That reads interesting and after a group the Querdenkt and much questioned. For Trollhättan definitely a great opportunity and I would be glad to see the Sion 2020 live in Sweden!

  • I think it's great to once again read a sign of life from the Sion. It had become very quiet in the last few months. An interesting article, with insights between the lines if you read it carefully. Class!

  • Who develops the car? If you are looking on LinkedIn, Sono Motors has approximately 70 people who are registered in Management and Marketing.

    • Currently, 85 employees are working for Sono. The system suppliers in the background include Continental and Bosch. The develop, if desired, each vehicle ready for production. Sono focuses, in my estimation, on software (but also uses Bosch structures) and the integration of solar cells.

      • According to my information, the skills of the partners in engineering are less used, but rather as system suppliers. When the company was still young, the community could have a say in things, such as the design of the rear lights. However, you did not have the tail lights made according to your own wishes, but instead had several "finished" components for your own kit to choose from and then decided on one of them. That makes the whole thing cheaper, because the engineering has already "paid" someone else.
        Some components are also used by BMW, for example.

        • That's what I wrote, Bosch and Continental are system suppliers. I can confirm the observation that Sono Motors uses existing components. In my opinion a thoughtful thing to keep costs under control, and to realize the project at all. In principle, this is nothing to complain about, even Tesla then grabbed the Roadster back on a kit. In the next step, with another model, that could change.

          • Even today (almost) nobody develops anymore. Magna delivers complete cars to BMW, there's nothing wrong with that. Sono Motors sets the frame values, the rest is done externally. This is how it works, I keep my fingers crossed!

        • A very old hat (1920er and 30er years) of the automotive industry ...

          Strictly speaking, most of the car brands used to be saddlers and coachbuilders. After the carriage came the motor carriage. In Berlin alone there were times over 100 coachbuilders who generated their own car brand ...

          Hardly any company had the competence and production capacity for brakes, engines, transmissions, glass or electrical components. Apart from wood, varnish, fabrics and leather as well as by hand gedengelter body panels came almost never ever something from the own processing.

          And in the 1930er was indeed not the end of it. Even in the 1980ern, it was easy to share some components with each other and across brands, as they were universal parts of, for example, Bosch.

          I do not see any break in the role of suppliers. The rupture is that the components have become less universal and interchangeable. That cars today are no longer with identical ignition coils, distributors or contacts and round headlights on the road ...

          Whether this diversification is now a curse or a blessing, of course, lies in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I'm a big fan of industry-wide standards. Where would we be today without USB? ? ?

          Companies that jump on moving trains, use the existing designs as intelligently as possible and use them sustainably are the ones that make me less worried about our future than those who think I have to reinvent (and market) the wheel every year ...

      • Bosch supplies the Internet communication module and Continental the electric drive. That's just a fraction of everything needed. Someone has to integrate everything, develop a chassis, etc. Negotiate with parts suppliers to get parts at a reasonable price. A true prototype will be announced for the second quarter 2020. Will 2020 be ready for production in the fourth quarter?

        • I suspect that more is being “bought in” externally. Otherwise it is not nearly realistic to want to go into series production in the fourth quarter of 4. Maybe there is another system supplier behind it, although Bosch and Continental could do everything completely.

          Personally, I think the schedule is ambitious. Final interior design later this year, another, perhaps crucial round of financing in February 2020 (?), Purchase of tools, homologation, production preparation, hiring of employees, pre-series. Something is coming together. Not impossible, but tight.

          • Under See that they are looking for the engineers that make it possible. These people are responsible for part of the parts purchase. CAD designer responsible for the entire vehicle. Will you make it on time? NEVS has been employing hundreds of engineers for years and has recently begun production of the 9-3 EV.

          • They do. However, these are predominantly bodies that are supervising and coordinating in cooperation with suppliers. On the other hand, there would still not be enough staff to handle the development of the Sion itself.

            Sono is not comparable to NEVS, not even in development. NEVS has in the past developed a lot for external projects that did not (or have not) become a reality. In addition, engineers are still performing engineering tasks for other established manufacturers today. The own EV was treated with a lower priority, which was also due to the lack of liquidity at that time. A situation that has changed fundamentally.

  • Interesting contribution, as always. None of my colleagues here knew the Sion. A car that makes electricity with solar cells itself? At least they have learned something. The blog does educational work.

  • Sono Motors has a startup character and is well represented on various social media channels. There are some interesting podcasts in which there is a lot of talk about the company, the concept and the vehicle. In the classical press, they are less represented so far.

  • With every post about the Sion I find the startup more exciting. I would be happy if it would become something with the trolls. Please stay tuned to the topic, we can use some sustainability for the future!

    • Why is it always spoken of sustainability and green when people and animals in the poor parts of the world are exploited even more than they can tolerate ????
      Our policy is just for ko ... and everyone who buys such a trash can supports the guys yet and thinks he is doing something good?
      In the link is not good news to read ... or I see that wrong?

      The hydrogen / fuel cell would be a good or better alternative or just let the engineers run wild when it comes to the internal combustion engines, there would be so much possible ... but no, the new bullshit is called E-car ... I could ko ....
      The next problem comes with the disposal of the batteries and all the parts ... what happens to the computer waste today? It is shipped to the third world (with a lot of CO2 from the ship's diesel) and there they burn off the plastic for the most part so that parts of the metal remain, which are then brought here or to China under “environmentally friendly” conditions you can then buy a fake Apple watch (for the cool e-car drivers) at Wish for € 5 ... Mankind is really the stupidest animal on the planet!
      And then ECO .... What about all the war toys that are being driven up everywhere? Is that also eco?
      In the Amazon, people did last year !!!!!
      500.000.000 trees like !!!! There will be more ... for more money ... they will certainly buy all e-cars ... .there will not be any more drinking water but sustainable e-cars made in China made in Sweden 🙂
      Since I love every kilometer in my old box and I'm happy how sustainable it is ...
      Enjoy the nice weather ... and please do not moan about the heat, it's just the beginning ... 😉

      Rock'n Roll ....

  • Interesting article. Thanks for the insights.


    Let's see what comes to Sono Motors in the next article. What happens next after sniffing each other? What insights and information are granted, what else do we learn here?

    I find the parallel between furniture and used cars interesting. If the old bar stool has earned a second life at Sono Motors, saving resources and protecting the environment (very sympathetic), then this is twice as much for more complex and expensive products (such as a SAAB) ...

    One is probably well advised (and the environment with), if you can easily and stoically ride the perfect storm, upheavals and self-discovery of the automotive industry on well-tried horses.

    • Dear Herbert, please let me have a few articles on the so environmentally friendly electric cars through ... there is only the economic factor, the further exploitation of the third world and nothing else! Unfortunately….

      • Dear Alex from C,

        Thank you for the hint and food for thought. In fact, I had already decided to learn to read. For who can do that should clearly be at an advantage ...

        As soon as I'm ready, I'll probably also read a few articles on e-mobility. Meanwhile I recommend you to read my comment again.

        If it works with the letters and the understanding of the text, you will find that I have not lost any positive or uncritical words about the “environmentally friendly e-cars”…

        On the contrary, I do not go into the subject at first, but draw a parallel between used furniture and existing cars (such as SAABs), because both of my irrelevant opinion, more sustainable than the latest cry or the last driven through the village sow.

        Reading, comprehension of the text and restrained thumbs and answers are for me a positive feature of this blog. Especially the thumb down seems to me to find here only with the utmost restraint and after careful consideration an application. I like this.

        So thumbs up for this blog and also for each of your comments, if this is justified or enriching ...

    • My first thought after reading this article:
      Sustainable because reused interior is sympathetic to a young company, but nothing more than a tender fig leaf compared to resource consumption and exploitation in connection with the re-production of short-lived battery-powered vehicles.

      Sustainability: Further used furniture and continued (Saab) cars, Chapeau Herbert Hürsch!
      (and the “simple and stoic riding on well-tried horses” is a wonderful allegory)

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