Sono Motors pilots solar bus trailer in Munich

German electric car startup Sono Motors is launching its proprietary solar technology to public transport for the first time in partnership with the Münchner Verkehrsgesellschaft (Munich Transport Company, MVG).

The novel solar bus trailer has been put into pilot operation in the Munich metropolitan area. This should test the energy yields as well as the potential of the technology in daily operation.

Sono Motors says that its solar bus trailer can achieve savings of up to 2,500 litres of diesel per year and an annual local CO2 saving potential of more than 6.5 metric tonnes per bus. The 20 semi-flexible special photovoltaic (PV) modules provide over 2,000 watts to power the vehicle’s battery and electrical loads such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and the trailer’s steering system.

Veit Bodenschatz, Managing Director and Head of Bus Division of the MVG, commented: “the photovoltaic system on our bus trailer now allows us to test under real conditions how well the power generation works and whether there are perhaps routes in our network that are better suited than others for this type of power generation” He noted that “The question of what energy savings can be achieved by using solar energy are, of course, particularly exciting against the background of current fuel and energy prices.”

Sono’s solar technology, now being tested under real conditions, has been developed and tested specifically for use on buses. The customised solar bus trailer concept was developed with the Munich public transport provider MVG to make the best possible use of space and efficiency.

The photovoltaic vehicle system includes electrical integration using power electronics developed by Sono Motors (MPPT Central Unit), MCU. The company explains that the solar charge controller has an intelligent algorithm that optimises the energy yields of the PV modules.

The modules integrated into the solar bus trailer cover a total area of twelve square metres. In addition to saving diesel, the additional electricity ensures the stabilisation of the battery’s energy supply, which can extend its service life and reduce maintenance costs. Sono’s integrated software allows information about the energy generated to be viewed online.

“This is a milestone in Sono Motors’ mission to make every vehicle solar”, says Laurin Hahn, Sono Motors co-founder and CEO. “City buses and coaches, whether electric or diesel-powered, offer a lot of space and are out on the road every day. The first solar bus trailer for MVG will hit the streets of Munich in the future and allow MVG passengers to experience solar mobility in daily use,” Hahn continues.

Besides the Sono Motors electric, solar car, the Sion, the Munich based EV startup has been able to collaborate with different vehicle manufacturers to incorporate their solar technology on all kinds of different vehicles. Sono says it has already signed more than ten letters of intent and contracts with companies such as MAN, easymile or ARI Motors since the beginning of 2021. Called the Sono Solar, Sono Motors’ complete solution includes a customised concept with solar modules, power electronics, telematics and data, mechanical and electrical integration, as well as after-sales and service. The German company says that its technology is suitable for integration into existing vehicles as well as production-ready development and integration into new vehicles during the production phase.

“When e-buses are factory-equipped with our solar technology, additional range can immediately be generated through solar energy on the roof and sides. This not only reduces the standstill times for charging processes, but also protects the battery through a constant charging process. As a result, the e-bus can be operated longer,” explains Hahn.

The bus trailer will go into regular operation as soon as it is given technical approval by the relevant regulatory authorities.


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