Sono Motors: a solar powered bus trailer on the road in Munich

In addition to the Sion electric vehicle currently planned for 2023, Sono Motors is also selling a solar cell integration developed for the pickup truck. The technology is used with the Munich Transport Company (MVG) on local public transport.

At the end of March, the Munich startup and MVG presented a solar powered bus trailer that will be on the road in the city in the future and will test energy productivity and technology potential in daily operation. Sono Motors talks about the potential to save up to 2,500 liters of diesel per year and the potential for local annual CO2 savings of over 6.5 tons per bus. In addition, 20 special semi-flexible PV modules provide power to supply the vehicle’s battery, to electrical consumers such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning as well as to the trailer steering system.

The partnership with the Munich transport company demonstrates the huge potential of our unique solar technology, which is now being used on local public transport for the first time in the company’s history. “For Sono Motors, this is a milestone in the mission to power every vehicle with solar cells,” said Lauren Hahn, founder and CEO of Sono Motors. “City buses and vehicles – regardless of whether they are electric or diesel – save a lot of space and are outside and almost every day. MVG’s first solar-powered bus trailer will be on the streets of Munich in the future and will allow MVG passengers to experience solar-powered mobility in everyday use. “.

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According to Sono Motors’ calculations, it is possible to save up to 2,000 tons of CO2 per year for a medium-sized fleet of about 300 buses. Further increases can be envisaged in the future, as solar cells and power electronics are expected to become more efficient. The CO2 emissions from solar solution production are about 1.5 tons of CO2 per bus or bus trailer. This must be compensated after less than a year.

According to Sono Motors, MVG’s solar technology has been developed and tested specifically for use on buses. The concept of the solar bus trailer was developed with the Munich transport company in order to ensure a high level of space utilization and efficiency. In addition to a robust solar installation optimized for vehicle integration, this also includes electrical integration using the power electronics developed by the startup. The solar charge controller contains an intelligent algorithm that improves the energy yield of the PV modules.

Ultra-Speed ​​Optimization

“Due to the ultra-fast optimization in the millisecond range and thanks to the multi-channel system, the PV energy returns can be transmitted to the bus battery in the best possible way,” she says. Moreover: “The units cover a total area of ​​twelve square meters and supply a 24 volt battery with more than 2,000 watts. In this case, solar energy generated in this way is used to power the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system and to support the trailer steering system. In addition to saving diesel, the additional electricity ensures the stability of the battery’s power supply and thus extends its service life and reduces maintenance costs. The energy generated can be read online using integrated software.

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With the photovoltaic system on the bus trailer, you can now test how well the power generation works and whether there are roads in the grid that are better than others for this type of power generation, explained MVG managing director Wit Bodenschitz. “The question of energy savings that can be achieved with solar energy is of course particularly exciting against the backdrop of current fuel and energy prices.”

Solar technology has been developed by Sono Motors in such a way that it can be integrated and licensed into different vehicles. For factory-equipped e-buses with our solar technology on the roof and sides, additional range can be generated using solar energy. This not only reduces charging downtime, but also protects the battery through continuous charging. As a result, the e-bus can be operated for a longer time,” says Han.

Sono Motors says it has signed more than a dozen letters of intent and contracts with companies such as MAN, easyymile and ARI Motors for solar technology since the beginning of 2021. The complete solution offered includes a single concept including solar modules, power electronics, information and data technologies, mechanical and electrical integration as well as Customer service and service. The technology is suitable for integration into existing vehicles and for the development of serial production and integration into new vehicles during the production phase.

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