German start-up Sono Motors has applied to the Munich District Court for insolvency proceedings in self-administration. The failed solar car manufacturer plans to continue its business operations as part of the protective shield procedure. However, Sono Motors announced that it cannot repay the reservation fees of thousands of customers as previously promised. The company had started developing a solar-powered small car, the Sion, in 2017 and presented a prototype of the vehicle. It announced that the car would go into series production in 2019, but after financing rounds and problems, it was delayed until 2024. The Sion was originally priced at €30,000.
However, in February 2022, Sono Motors ceased development after the conditions for financing had changed, and 250 employees lost their jobs. The company would reposition itself as a supplier of solar technology for other automobile manufacturers. Over the years, the Munich-based company obtained thousands of pre-orders, with customers making down payments or paying for the car in full in advance. The company aimed to repay these deposits via a repayment plan in installments over two years, with the first installment due in May. Nevertheless, the repayment plan appears to have triggered the company’s financial difficulty, with possible donors turning down discussions.
Sono Motors has already paid out over €1.7m to customers who did not agree to the repayment plan, with a further €800,000 expected to be paid out in mid-April. It is unclear how many customers are still waiting for repayment and how much is involved in total. Listed US parent company Sono Group is entering protective shield proceedings alongside GmbH, in which the operational business of Sono Motors is based. In the protective shield process, the company intends to reorganize itself during ongoing operations. Sono Motors said it remains committed to its strategy of focusing on “the retrofitting and integration of solar technology into third-party vehicles”.