A car that drives with self-generated solar energy? Until now, this was more of a technical gimmick. But the rapid technological advances, both in solar cells and in accumulators, now enable the production of the first solar vehicles in series production. Two models stand out at the moment: the Model One from Lightyear and the Sion from Sono Motors.
Both companies not only have the technology – solar cells installed in the vehicle – both also come from Europe: Lightyear is based in the Netherlands, Sonor Motors in Germany. In terms of price, however, One and Sion differ in terms of worlds: While the One costs 150,000 euros (excluding taxes), the Sion is available for 25,500 euros. Appearance, equipment and range of services differ accordingly. Following to their own statements (german), the two car manufacturers do not see themselves as competitors either, but are both working towards the same goal: environmentally friendly mobility.
Sonor Motors doesn’t just want to build cars. The manufacturer plans to build a sharing community using a passenger app. In this way, the usage time per vehicle could increase significantly, according to Sonor Motors. As a result, fewer vehicles jam the roads. If one adds to the idea of autonomous driving, a fleet of vehicles could be created in this way, which not only transports passengers independently, but can also supply itself with energy.
What few people know: Technology metals and rare earths play a central role for both vehicles. For example, tellurium, gallium and indium are used for thin film solar cells, efficient electric motors require dysprosium and neodymium, and autonomous driving depends largely on germanium and gallium, which is built into sensors and infrastructure (such as the 5G network, we reported).