Sono Motors - the end of the Swedish-German liaison

In April 2019, a message electrified the Saab world. Sono Motors, the Munich start-up, planned to build its SEV (Solar Electric Vehicle) in the former Saab factory. A Swedish-German liaison that would have led Trollhättan back into the cosmos of automotive manufacturing locations. That was 3 years ago, the euphoria was remarkable, and some Saab drivers spontaneously reserved an SEV. Only 3 years later the relationship ended before it had really started. A story about dreams in Sweden and Munich and about a farewell.

Sion Prototype 2019 in Munich
Sion Prototype 2019 in Munich

There was never a binding production contract between Sono Motors and NEVS as a contract manufacturer. Everything had started so fantastically and looked almost too good for a certain time. Especially for the location on Göta Älv. The launch of the SEV from Sono Motors has been delayed from year to year. The planned start of production for 2020 became 22 and in the meantime the Munich company had to go through crises that threatened its very existence. But who knew how to master it somehow.

In the meantime, as many as 37 prototypes are being manufactured by a service provider, Thyssen-Krupp is pressing body parts and equipment components are being produced. However, things are not looking so good in Trollhättan.

dreams that shattered

The year 2023 should have brought the breakthrough there. In detail, the production of the solar-electric Sion in series and a vehicle from NEVS were in the room for a certain time. Then there was the new component plant that should have supplied parts for the Gemera for Koenigsegg. All projects have failed, which to be fair NEVS bears the slightest blame. The crisis of the Chinese owner and the lack of transfers forced the company to adopt a rigid austerity plan.

For the location, this meant some 100 jobs that will not be created in the near future and the reduction of many existing jobs. However, one does not seem to be particularly sad about the final cancellation by Sono Motors. Presumably because there is now one problem less on the agenda and contract manufacturing could no longer be seen as a future core business.

Dreams that may remain dreams

Choosing Valmet as Finnish contract manufacturer is a good step for Sono Motors. The plant in Uusikaupunki is highly modern and the workforce is perfectly trained. Moving to Finland minimizes all the risks that would have been taken with an inexperienced company like NEVS. Since the mass production of a body fitted with solar panels involves imponderables due to a lack of experience, it makes sense not to take other risks in the first place.

But the number of pieces that Sono Motors and Valmet are planning makes you sit up and take notice. 257.000 vehicles in 7 years is around 40.000 SEV a year. As a reminder, 3 years ago there were 10.000 reservations. Now it's 18.000, which is 2.000 additions per year. In addition, the market pressure comes from the large OEMs, who will have started with comparable purely electric products by the end of 2023, but without solar cells.

Although one can ask the question of how the customer will see the solar technology on the car beyond the 18.000 Sono Motors customers. As a risk and unproven technology in mobile use? Than expensive to repair in the event of an accident and at risk from hail and falling rocks? And possibly too expensive in the classification of the insurance? Or will he see it as a positive contribution to energy efficiency?

Dreams that the stock market interprets

The market could answer this question if Sono Motors can actually finance production in Finland. The SaabBlog will no longer do it, because our liaison with the SEV also ends. And now and today. Getting out of Trollhättan and Sweden is also out of the blog. The fact that Uusikaupunki was once a Saab location doesn't change that.

Before that, we can take a look at the stock market, which is known to anticipate the future.

Sono Group NV (SEV) shares are listed on the Nasdaq. The paper has lost two-thirds of its value since the start and even changing contract manufacturers didn't help. On the contrary. The day after the virtual move from Sweden to Finland, it went down again with more than 12%.

Perhaps the stockbrokers will recognize the mortgage that Sono Motors is carrying around. The deposits of 18.000 SEV, some of which have been paid in full, have already been issued. However, the vehicles must be produced and paid for from 2023. The company still faces a really big challenge. But then in Finland and one should wish a lot of success.

6 thoughts on "Sono Motors - the end of the Swedish-German liaison"

  • At least Trollhättan would be spared another negative headline next year. From my point of view, it is not possible to say today whether the Sion is good or not. Solar panels on the roof may sound good, but is it worth it and if so, how much? Can he fully recharge himself while standing? This would be nice! More importantly, can the company survive?! When the money has been spent on the vehicles that have already been ordered, where does the money for production come from?! Who will still invest their money today given the course of the share price? I would not do it.

    • Sion, solar cells & the environment

      Their performance is well known. In one day, the Sion can generate up to 34 km itself. It should be 5.000 km per year, which corresponds to an average of 13,7 km per day...

      Everyone has to judge for themselves. You can either smile at it as a drop in the ocean, or nod your head appreciatively at the free kilometer. I'm torn about that.
      On the one hand, 5.000 km in my Saab corresponds to 500 liters of gasoline, on the other hand, solar cells that recharge electricity for maybe 100 km during a one-hour drive in the blazing sun, seem to me like superfluous pacifiers ...

      They are not a range extender. And the Sion is not a solar vehicle - although, depending on the user profile, an amazing number of journeys and an amazing amount of distance would be possible with solar energy. However, this does not fit in with the car sharing that Sono propagates and favors for the Sion. As a result, the Sion is always hanging on the cable between uses, and Sono Motors does not plan for its Sion to stand still for longer periods of time in which it could accumulate solar power. For me, that is an inner contradiction in the vision of Sono Motors – one among others.

      By far the biggest is being a car manufacturer and as such wanting to build and sell as few models as possible in the smallest possible numbers. Well, at least they're very, very successful at it...
      How did Tom once jokingly write? Saab is the most environmentally friendly car manufacturer in the world.
      Sono is currently contesting this title with Saab. Zero cars with zero CO2 backpack and next to zero recognizable ambitions to want to change that completely as a “manufacturer” that still exists. You have to top that first.

      If Sono Motors wants to be or become a car manufacturer, they have to get off their high horse and offer us cars that we don't want or have to share. Individual transport and individual possessions cannot be separated from one another so easily. And as an individual possession, an SEV that from 9 to 5 in the parking lot in front of the office for the 24 km way home recharges the (solar) electricity for 8 hours free of charge also makes a lot more sense than hectic car sharing, which is everywhere looking for infrastructure and charging options screams. You don't need an SEV for that. An EV hangs just as well on the cable. Quo vadis Sono?

  • I can understand the exit strategy. With Sono Motors there would also be too much editorial drama and far too ideological. Nevertheless, I think it's a shame, I'll miss the objective reporting. Thank you for always raising the issue with your team, despite the drama and constant delays!

  • market opportunities ??
    With only 257.000 units in 7 years / i.e. approx. 35.000 per year, one can hardly speak of a relevant company, but rather of a rather loss-making company.

    At its worst, Saab had delivered more than 125.000 per year and was thus able to supply all markets worldwide.

    In the case of Sono, it looks quite different' only individual markets in the start-up phase', a lower market potential' and a company that has shown itself to be greedy for the press in recent years', but has always kept concrete things in the background.

    My conclusion for this company does NOT look promising ´´!´´ At SON they have tried to make themselves known in the media over the last few years with the money from the investors´ has a prototype and has still NOT reached the final phase´ and an important project the market is still completely missing' ie all published start dates have never been met''!

  • Unfortunately, 18.000 reservations over a very long period of time speak for a very low level of market acceptance. Work for Valmet for 5 months, and then?

    If you subtract the cancellations that are likely to come, it will be even less. If there was an order backlog for 2 years of production, then Sono Motors could be taken seriously. But that's just not enough.

  • Good idea, good conclusion

    That's exactly how I do it. I wish Sono, the Sion and the crowd, which has gone into pre-financing, every success - honestly, with a lot of sympathy and respect for the project and everyone who has taken it this far.

    I agree with every word in the article and simply agree with the conclusion.

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