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Sono Motors introduces community advisory board

Sono Motors unveiled the latest prototype of its electric minivan with solar cells in the body. In parallel with the Sion, currently planned for 2022, the Munich-based startup is pushing ahead with the suitability of its solar technology for other vehicles and its planned licensing to other companies. In the future, the startup will also be advised by a representative of the community behind the project.

Angelique Moss

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In the summer of 2020, Sono Motors announced that it would add an advisory board to the company and that the community would also have a voice. The subsequently advertised position received 170 applications – over 50 percent were for Sebastian Böttger, whom Sono Motors asked in an interview about his goals as an advisory board member. The 47-year-old electrical engineer and entrepreneur from Munich heads a company for software applications that develops digital services for the automotive industry, among other things. He has been driving purely electrically since 2013, has his own solar system on the roof, and runs an unofficial Sono blog. In the future, he also wants to drive a Sion; his reservation number is 4774.

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Böttger is quite critical of Sono Motors

He has known about the project almost from the beginning; out of interest in the concept, he took part in the first test drive in 2017, he said: “At the beginning, I was very critical of the schedule at the time and some of the Sion’s unique selling points. For example, a delivery in 2019 and the promised features at such a price seemed extremely ambitious to me,” the advisory board member explained. However, he was “extremely interested” in whether the solar integration would actually work and whether the promised range would be realized. That’s why he also participated in the public financing campaigns. He is still very curious “to see if this really works.”

As a community advisory board, he said, one of his responsibilities is to be very critical. “However, I’m much happier with the way you guys have been performing and communicating since the big 2019 funding campaign. The project has grounded itself since then,” Böttger told Sono Motors in an interview. In the meantime, he said, there is a comprehensible project plan, transparent financial planning, and concrete measures to achieve upcoming milestones. Changes in the schedule occur in every project, which he, therefore, does not find tragic – “as long as everyone knows the consequences and one can react to adjustments. That’s why he’s also working to get the current schedule back on the website, he said.

“I was happy to criticize Sono – but in essence, I think the Sion project is right and important,” Böttger emphasized. “The big OEMs all wanted to be mobility service providers, there’s nothing left of that, the joint ventures have all been canceled or sold. Cars are getting bigger and more expensive again. For 15 years, our OEMs have wanted to make money with digital services, but nothing more than chargeable map updates came of it. The Sion offers new ideas here, and it’s worth clearing the way for it.”

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Böttger is specifically eyeing the success of the Sion’s solar technology, saying he is curious to see how much electricity it can actually generate. “By that I mean in a real vehicle with road approval under everyday conditions, not just on paper.” The community advisory board still takes a critical view of the still “ambitious” schedule and the associated budget. Some problems can be combated with innovative ideas, but others can only be tackled with time and/or money, he said. The good thing, he said, is that Sono is managing to hire more and more people to make such risks manageable.

Böttger had particular praise for the team’s motivation: All those with whom he has had contact so far are fully behind the project and are doing their best. He also admires the willingness to do things differently – despite the risk that it might not work out. “Sono doesn’t want to just build a car and make as much profit as possible. It’s about building a sustainable company that wants to make a valuable contribution in the fight against global warming,” Böttger said.

As a representative of the Sono Motors community, Böttger’s main goal is to get the Sion on the road. He has also set himself three other major goals: “Transparency is clearly my top priority. Firstly, in the direction of the company, in order to adequately represent the expectations of the community, and secondly, in the direction of the community, in order to awaken understanding for one topic or another. Information must be transparent and comprehensible so that everyone knows how far the Sion has to go before it is ready for series production and there is no speculation. We’re on a good path here and are trying out new formats, such as the ‘live check’ of the new prototype as a video, or simply tried-and-tested tools like the Sunday Sono News on my blog.”

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In addition, the community needs a real structure in the long term – “a team, not just a single advisory board.” To that end, Böttger said he will soon revive an interactive map, for example, where any reservist can sign up and network with others. Finally, the community representative emphasized the issue of trust: Currently, he has the trust of Sono Motors as well as that of the community. “At least that is my current impression. Already, many people are writing me their opinions completely bluntly, and I consider that a good sign. As long as it stays that way, I can fulfill my new role very well. I want to preserve that. In a perfect future, at some point everyone will be sitting in a Sion that got better and better with feedback from the community – and I could help with that.”

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(Featured image by geralt via Pixabay)

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First published in ecomento de, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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Angelique Moss is a London-based entrepreneur, writer, and traveller. The world of business, finance, and technology, is her preferred cup of tea. She also writes about the developments and discussions on health, art, luxury and media. A top writer for several Medium publications, she has published hundreds of widely read articles on investing, stocks, global markets, cannabis, and technology for multiple platforms. She is also interested in culture, history, and social affairs.