Sono Motors signs up new partner for solar car

BERLIN, April 5 (Reuters) – Germany’s Sono Motors has signed up a new partner for its partly solar-powered cars and is sticking to its goal of commercial production in 2023, after abandoning talks with the electric carmaking arm of indebted Chinese property developer Evergrande.

Sono said on Tuesday it would produce its first vehicles in Finland with supplier Valmet Automotive, rather than in Sweden as originally envisaged.

The company had said in 2019 its production partner would be National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the Swedish electric vehicle unit of Evergrande Group (3333.HK), but a binding agreement was not signed.

Sono, founded in 2016 in Munich, is developing a fully-electric vehicle with solar cells integrated into the body, boosting the car’s range by an average of 112 kilometres per week beyond the 305-kilometre range of its battery.

Valmet Automotive, whose largest shareholders include China’s battery cell manufacturer CATL (300750.SZ), also produces cars for Mercedes-Benz (MBGn.DE) and makes battery modules at two plants in Finland, with a third opening in Germany this year.

It expects to produce a low four-digit volume of cars in its first year, with a view to ramping up to 43,000 a year, it said.

The net price of Sono’s vehicle, currently 23,950 euros ($26,271), will rise to 25,126 euros once the company hits 18,500 reservations from the around 17,000 registered so far, it said, citing rising manufacturing costs.

($1 = 0.9117 euros)

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee Editing by Madeline Chambers and Mark Potter