A deal for a fleet solar-powered cars to help provide energy and help balance the grid of the Netherlands’ fourth-largest city, Utrecht, has been secured by solar car startup Sono Motors.
Under the deal, 100 Sion solar cars with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities will be able to access Utrecht’s 500 bidirectional chargers, using smart charging technology to manage the discharge of energy from their 54kWh batteries to help reduce grid instabilities.
It is the first project of its kind on this scale, says the company – although we note that in Australia, energy company AGL embarked upon a trial of 100 electric cars including 50 V2G-capable Nissan Leafs in 2020.
The difference here of course is that the Sion – billed as the “first solar car you can really afford” – has a body entirely covered in 248 integrated solar cells, that can help provide around 30km driving range per day for free, directly from the sun.
In addition to extra range courtesy of the solar cells, the 100 Sion vehicles will be charged using renewable energy, says Sono Motors.
Combined, the 100 Sion cars will be able to provide 1.1 megawatt peak power to the city of Utrecht at a top rate of 11kW per vehicle.
“This is the perfect project for Sono Motors to further our vision of a world free from fossil fuels as it is a clear demonstration that electric vehicles can support the transition of the energy sector as a whole,” said Jona Christians, Sono Motors’ CEO and co-founder, in a statement.
“We are proud that the technology we develop is able to facilitate such a ground-breaking project, focusing on clean urban living, smart charging and shared mobility.”
The Sion, which has had a battery update since last we reported on it, can now drive up to 305km (WLTP) on a single charge without the aid of the integrated cells. Previous specifications stated a 35kWh battery and 255km WLTP range.
While its previous incarnation was available for pre-order with a stated €21,429 (ex-VAT, about $A34,586 converted) sticker price, it is now priced at €25,500 (about $A41,157 converted), which we understand is also ex-VAT.
The 100 Sion vehicles involved in the Utrecht project will assist the city in achieving its goal to become the first metro city in Europe to combine V2G grid-balancing with car-sharing.
With this aim, the cars will be deployed by We Drive Solar, a company that on Wednesday opened what it says is the largest bidirectional electric vehicle charging station in the world, with a total of 250 V2G charging stations, and 2,000 solar panels covering an area of 10,000 square metres.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with an innovative company like Sono Motors. They are the perfect partner for this venture as they already incorporate the use of solar energy, sharing and bidirectional charging into their product offering” said Robin Berg, Director of We Drive Solar in a statement.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.