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.
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.