Electric Cars

Former Saab factory gets new life building solar-powered electric cars

A German startup will build its all-electric hatchback in Trollhättan.

A prototype of the Sion in the Tröllhattan factory.

Sono Motors

A German startup company called Sono Motors will use defunct automaker Saab's old factory in Sweden to build solar-powered electric cars, it announced this week. National Electric Vehicle Sweden, a holding company that acquired Saab's assets after the Swedish automaker went into bankruptcy, will build Sono's Sion electric car at the Trollhättan factory that was once home to Saab.

Sono Motors' plan is for NEVS to produce a total of 260,000 cars at the factory between 2020 and 2028. After a production ramp-up, the goal is to build 43,000 cars per year. The cars in question are the Sono Sion, an all-electric hatchback that, like most EVs, plugs in to the wall to charge. But unlike most EVs, the Sion also has solar panels on its roof to charge the battery on sunny days.

Sono Motors Sion

The Sion should have a driving range of 158 miles and will cost the equivalent of nearly $29,000.

Sono Motors

The Sion has a 35-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a 163-horsepower electric drive motor. It's rated for 255 kilometers (158 miles) of driving range under Europe's WLTP economy standard. What makes the Sion so different from other new EVs is its solar panel array on the roof. On a sunny day in the summer, Sono says that panel can charge the battery enough to add about 34 kilometers (21.1 miles) of driving range per day.

While Sono Motors developed the vehicle, NEVS will handle production, with the fledgling carmaker saying it values "our partner's specific expertise based on their many years of experience in traditional automobile development and production." The company also says that production at the plant will be powered by 100% renewable energy.

The Sono Sion will cost 25,500 euros when it goes on sale, or nearly $29,000 at today's exchange rate. The company says it already has about 9,800 preorders for the model.