Not a Tesla-killer, but a Tesla-filler

The Sono Sion charges from the sun, can give you electrical power in the outback and is inherently sharable. It is a car for a new, more modest but also joyful age. (Photo: Sono Motors GmbH)

So many car-brands have marketed their prototypes as “Tesla-killers”. It gets kind of boring.

Tesla is still many years ahead in the technology race and will probably be so for years to come. Every time the competition races ahead, Tesla does the same.

But they are all racing along the same track. That´s why the “Tesla-killers” probably never will overtake their reference car of choice.

What they need to do, is to change the rules of the race. Come up with radical new ideas of what a car can be — just as Tesla once did.

Only then can a new car make Tesla look old-fashioned. Is there such a car? I think so.

The first time I read about the German start-up company Sono and their prototype car Sion, I was interested, but not convinced.

It wasn't very stylish. It didn´t have ludicrous mode. It didn't predend it could drive by itself. It didn't´t have luxury comfort. The range was average. And the leather on the dashboard was replaced by artificially green-colored Icelandic moss!

(Photo: Sono Motors GmbH)

Not exactly my dream car, I thought. Would it be anyone else's? I was sceptical.

But things have changed. A perfect storm of interrelated crises is brewing up. The war in Ukraine, famine, energy crisis, faltering world trade after covid, climate change — we are reading the writing on the wall, and it says: You have to change. Radically.

The consumer party is over. A new age of sobriety and material modesty will have to come. The new prefix is “re”: Re-pair, re-store, re-cycle, re-strain.

But also: Re-cover. Re-cuperate. Re-joice. There is joy and peace of mind in a simpler life with less material distractions and ambitions. A life where we consume to live, not live to consume.

Enter Sono Sion —at the perfect moment, when the perfect storm overturns the pieces of the World Game.

Sono Sion is not a “Tesla killer”. It is a “Tesla filler”. It fills out a widening open hole in the car market.

Sono Sion breaks out from the race and lets Tesla drive the highway. Sono Sion chooses the low way. A way towards shelter from the storm, I think. Why?

First — the solar cells. Sono Sion has them on the roof, on the hood, on the doors and the screens. It means that you can get an extra free range of around 100 kilometers a week from the cleanest of all energy sources — the sun. If the conditions are ideal, that number could be more than doubled.

Second — Sono Sion is made for self-repair. It is an “open-source-car”, with free documentation and instructions for how to fix most things yourself. Boys of all ages and sexes — rejoice! “Do It Yourself” is back!

Third — Sono Sion can charge both ways. If you want to live nomadic or have a remote cabin, you can bring along your cooking gear and make food in the wilderness or electric tools to fix your cabin. Or you can help out a fellow driver with empty batteries.

(Photo: Sono Motors GmbH)

Fourth — it has a towbar. Not bad either, if you need to move planks to that remote cabin or extra gear for camping.

Fifth — it is generically shareable. The Sono app lets you earn money from ride pooling or renting — or even selling power.

Now, you may object — this sounds idealistic and fine, but is it attractive enough in today's market? Doesn´t greed for speed and luxury trump the ideals? Isn´t it easier to leave the maintenance to a computerized repair shop?

Maybe for some time, in the richest countries. But what if you live in a country with a lot of sun and a lot of handy people who can fix stuff — people who need sturdy cars that can go outback and never run empty on fuel?

Just as Tesla fed off a rich country like Norway, I think Sono Sion will feed off the poorer majority of the world where frugality is imperative for survival. And the rich countries will have to join that majority.

I bought some Tesla stocks when the first Model 3s drove into the market from “production hell” and the company was weeks from bankruptcy. Tesla survived and rose to stardom. The stocks have served me well.

But now, I have sold them and bought Sono stocks instead. I think Sono is where Tesla was a few years ago — high risk and high promise.

It could go wrong. But I think not. I think it will be embraced by emerging countries. And if so — “1.3 billion Indians can´t be wrong”.

Also, Sono is already selling it´s technology for use in buses and trucks. It´s sharing app can now be used in Germany for other car brands.

When will I know that Sono Sion is a real and lasting success? I think that moment comes when I open a car website and read the headline: “Beware Sono — here is the new Sion-killer”.

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Retired science journalist from Norway with stories about science, spirituality, space and green technology behind me — and still ahead of me.

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Arnfinn Sørensen

Arnfinn Sørensen

Retired science journalist from Norway with stories about science, spirituality, space and green technology behind me — and still ahead of me.

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