The closeness between former Tesla colleagues has led to a new partnership between the Silicon Valley tech company Sibros and German car manufacturer Sono Motors it’s building a solar electric vehicle.
The two companies announced a collaboration on Monday where Sono will deploy Sibros’ connected software technology to manage its entire Sion solar electric vehicle fleet (SEE-on), which will launch in Europe in the first half of 2023.
Sibros’ “secret sauce” is its Deep Connected platform, which allows an automobile manufacturer to deliver over-the-air (OTA) software updates to all vehicle systems and make them work together.
“We can support, basically, any type of vehicle architecture,” Sibros CEO and co-founder Hemant Sikaria said in an interview. “This is an electrical architecture that we know well. It is very good architecture, very clean. From that point of view, it was a natural fit.
The Sibros Deep Connected platform manages what Sikaria calls the “fundamental pillars” of a connected vehicle: the ability to perform software and configuration updates wirelessly for each component, to collect high-quality data and based on vehicle events and transmit to the user. facing diagnostic commands that a service engineer might use to locate or repair a technical problem.
This type of comprehensive air management was exactly what Sono executives were looking for in Zion.
“What convinced us was this holistic approach, which allowed us to focus on what we do, delivering great digital experiences,” said Johannes Bückle, Digital Product Manager at Sono Motors at Forbes .com. “With Sibros, no other company has done more live updates.”
Sono CEO Jona Christians went on to explain, “We are building a car ready for sharing. We designed from the very kernel meant to be shared. We think Sibros is the perfect partner because they are so determined to go all out with digital services and this is what we need as we want to make sure the Sion is used more than 5% of the time. Raising the percentage is what we want to do and we think Sibros is perfect for that.
The match between Sibros and Sono was facilitated by a group of former Tesla colleagues. As Sikaria, a former Tesla engineer, recalled, “We were introduced to each other through a common colleague who spent time with me at Tesla. More and more, we are seeing more and more early Tesla members… kept in touch. Everyone who comes from the Tesla world sees the value and the power of having a good connected vehicle platform and they have become the champions of it and they see that Sibros is doing this and it is having a real impact.
This former Tesla colleague from Sikaria runs German company Munich Electrification and made the introduction when the Sono team contacted him while looking for a connectivity partner. It’s worth mentioning that the three founders of Munich Electrification are Tesla alumni, according to Sikaria.
Now that Sibros and Sono are working together, progress continues on the planned 2023 launch of the Sion. It is a unique vehicle powered by an electric battery whose autonomy can be extended thanks to solar cells which are in fact integrated into the polymer outer skin of the car.
Zion’s solar panels can add up to 245 km or 152 miles (112 km or 70 miles on average) of extra range per week to the car’s battery, according to the company. One of Zion’s most innovative and useful features is its two-way charging capability, which means its energy can be shared with other electric vehicles, power tools, or most other electrical devices.
“The idea behind this is to make electric vehicles finally accessible to the mass market, because one of the main problems remains infrastructure – a major problem that people are not embracing electric vehicles for,” said the Christians.
The first Sion prototype was released in 2017 and the latest version is expected to go into production in the second half of 2013. Christians says more than 13,000 bookings from European customers secured by down payments of 3,000 euros, or about $ 3,550. Zion’s sticker price is relatively low at $ 25,670 including battery, but for that money the choices are, well, zero.
Channeling Henry Ford, Christians explains, “This is a clear one-model strategy. You can get Zion in any color as long as it is black. There is a line of interiors. All the extras you would expect are included in this base price. One model minimizes complexity.
Although initially only available in Europe, Christians tease that the United States and China are Sono’s “next targets”, but declined to specify the timing.
Meanwhile, the Sibros-Tesla family tree has taken on a new branch. The company appointed Jay Vijayan, founder and CEO of the tech company, to its advisory board Tekion, which operates a car dealership management system. Vijayan is the former chief information officer of Tesla.
“We had a few years of overlap when we were at Tesla and I’ve always admired it,” Sikaria said. “It represents the new technological wave, version 3.0 of the automotive industry. We learn a lot from him. Jay is phenomenal.