The new year begins with uncertainties for Sono Motors. It remains uncertain whether the Sion can be built in Trollhättan. With a sensational crowdfunding campaign, the company wanted to raise € 50 million by December 30, 12. As of the reporting date, it was a little more than 2019 million, which can be considered a great success - but is too little. Nevertheless, the Munich start-up is not giving up. The community now decides on the future fate of the project.
Since December 3st, the Sion supporters have 31 days to cast their vote. Will the crowdfunding campaign be extended by 20 days to collect the remaining millions? Or did the community project as such fail? A grassroots process that is unusual for the auto industry.
Sono Motors mobilized the fan base in December. The basis that only brought the project so far should ensure survival. The founders toured the country with regional events. They answered questions and admitted mistakes. The state of development was documented in videos and an open question was answered. Supporters are to be involved in the future profit of the company via a points system, fans were able to grant loans. Media sets to support the #staysono campaign with videos, images and texts were distributed. In short, all the stops were pulled in Munich to make the campaign a success.
Victor Muller would have enjoyed it.
The struggle for Sono Motors was reminiscent of the battle for Saab 2010 and 2011. Just more digital and almost a decade later.
How we didn't become fans
A flashback. In summer 2019, Mark and I visited Munich. We wanted the appointment because we got the project and the History behind it found refreshingly modern. The decision to have the Sion built in Trollhättan was only part of the story. The community idea, the solar concept and the previous history were much more personable and the decisive factor.
In the end, the visit amazed us, it was completely different than expected. Everyone was friendly, but in the end it was buttoned up. Our extensive catalog of questions, which had been insisted on in advance, did not matter. The half-sentences around the appointment that came from employees were interesting. In general, Sono Motors was closed like a Swiss bank vault.
After the appointment we were at a loss. Was that the company the community had made it this far? We were used to more openness from Saab, NEVS and the auto industry in general. Was the story in the background just a good marketing story or was it up to us who came from the combustion engine camp? Should we get involved in the idea of the solar car, could the progress of the project interest our readers? To sum up, we booked the appointment as a first meeting and decided to continue monitoring Sono Motors in the media. At a distance, as we experienced in Munich.
In any case, they missed making fans that day.
180 degree U-turn
Then in December the dramatic one U-turn. After months of silence, it was all about and we went back to the roots. Which one had ignored and neglected for a long period of time, as one admitted. And what should never happen again. Sono is back in the community, Sion is a community project. That alone makes it interesting, even if the U-turn may have come too late. Social media is fast moving, news and trends have a very short half-life.
Clever, refreshing ideas were and still are in abundance from Munich. Customers can switch to the Renault Zoe to bypass the Sion. Customer loyalty in an unconventional way, friendly, if born out of necessity.
How will it go on?
The community will probably vote for an extension. The crowdfunding will then continue, and it cannot be ruled out that the remaining millions can be raised. Then around € 200 million will be missing before production in Trollhättan, which has to be organized by mid-2021. In order to convince even more people of the concept of the solar car and to raise funds, test drives will be increasingly offered, prototypes built and open contact with the community maintained.
An adventure, thought out, unusual. Definitely exciting.