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Electric

What’s the best self-charging electric vehicle?

Forget all that marketing nonsense, the new Sono Sion will fill up with juice just sitting there

People get very exercised about the notion of self-charging cars, it’s become a comments section battlefield with both sides lobbing in badly spelled opinion grenades with furious abandon. 

While the phrase has been more or less appropriated by the petrol hybrid crowd, it still conjures up rather different images in our minds.  We did see a demonstration in Amsterdam or somewhere like that where an electric Volkswagen Golf wandered round a car park by itself looking for a free space and then plugged itself in. Whatever happened to that fancy technology? It could save every electric vehicle driver literally minutes a week in lost time spent wandering round car parks and plugging in. 

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Perhaps this is what most people think of when they hear the phrase ‘self-charging’, when the reality looks more like a Toyota Corolla with a small battery that’s boosted when you stomp on the brakes. Hence the rabid disappointment. 

But there is an electric vehicle on the way that actually does charge itself in a miraculously exciting way that you’d be showing off to friends, acquaintances and total strangers. The Sono Sion (not to be confused with Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono) comes with 456 photovoltaic cells seamlessly integrated into the bodywork all over, and its makers claim that it’ll generate around 70 miles of its own juice every week during the middle of the year in Munich.

It's the dream for an electric car driver, isn't it? If you lived somewhere really sunny you could find yourself with an extra 150 miles of range you didn’t need to do anything to sort out. Except maybe find a south facing parking space. It's the only thing that beats charging up while you drive along.

The Sion is being built by German start-up Sono, which has taken the novel route of getting its new car to market by crowdfunding the cash it needs. The EV isn’t quite ready yet, but Sono reckons it’ll be available to customers by the end of 2023. Don’t rush yourselves, lads. 

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Available initially for the impressively low sum of €28,500 (a smidge under £25k), they’ve kept costs down by selling the Sion as a single-spec car. So you get it in any colour you like as long it’s a dull matte black. That’s not to say they’ve skimped on spec – you get heated seats up front, climate control, cruise control, rear parking camera and 10in infotainment display with Apple and Android. 

The tech spec is just as exciting – the Sion will have a 54kWh battery for a range of 190 miles, 50kWh CCS charging. The plugs are bidirectional, which means you can run things off the car or even charge another EV from it at up to 11kW. It’ll also have a top speed of around 87mph and do the 0 to 62mph run in around 9.0 seconds. 

But of course there’s always bad news – and in this case it’s the fact that the car isn’t actually coming to the UK. It’s always sunnier on the other side of the Channel, etc. Best get back to the old Toyota Corolla brochure.

Best self-charging electric vehicle – Sono Sion
Price: £25,000
Range: 190 miles
Engine: 161bhp e-motor
Battery: 54kWh
Top speed: 87mph
0–62mph: 9.0secs
Boot space: 650 litres 
Number of RHD models to be built: 0
 

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