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Sono Motors and MAN Truck & Bus to analyze applications of solar technology in commercial electric vehicles

MAN Truck & Bus and Sono Motors have signed a Letter of Intent to investigate the technical and economic feasibility of integrating Sono Solar technology into MAN’s eTGE electric transporter. Sono Motors is developing its own electric car that is suitable for daily use, with integrated solar cells and innovative mobility services.


Example of solar integration on a MAN eTGE.

Three applications are to be equipped with Sono Solar technology and investigated by the companies:

  • MAN eTGE panel van

  • MAN eTGE combi with a powerful on-roof air conditioning system

  • MAN eTGE with a refrigeration system

For all three concepts, the focus is either on additional range to be achieved or on a self-sufficient supply of auxiliary users—e.g the air conditioning system—through the acquired solar energy.

We will pool our joint know-how and expertise to test various prototypes with vehicle-integrated photovoltaic technology. The aim is to find out how much energy can be gained from PV technology over the year. Using this insight, we can then assess whether the technology pays off for our customers and at the same time helps to protect the environment.

—Dennis Affeld, Senior Vice President & Head of Sales Truck & Van at MAN Truck & Bus

The eTGE is MAN’s answer for urban and regional operations. Depending on the annual mileage, the eTGE can be operated more economically than a comparable diesel TGE: after about four years, it pays for itself.

Sono Solar Technology offers a lightweight, robust and cost-effective solar solution that can adapt to a range of complex geometries due to its polymer-based design. Due to the larger surface area compared to passenger cars on vehicles such as trucks, vans or buses, the panels are particularly suitable for commercial applications, such as Last-Mile-Delivery.

The vehicle-integrated photovoltaic solutions (ViPV) are not, however, intended to replace existing energy storage systems such as batteries or fuel cells. They can reduce energy requirements and the number of charging intervals required, thus extending the range.

Furthermore, it is conceivable that the solar energy obtained will be utilized for auxiliary users such as heating, air conditioning or refrigeration units.


William Stockwell

I've felt that this is the way to go for vans and buses for a long time, add in wireless charging and you can have a mini power grid system . Mitigating Climate Change reminds me about the question "How do you eat an elephant?" "one bite at a time"


You have to do the math here.
Lets say you have a van with a roof 1.5m x 4m, or 6 sq m and you get ~150 watts / sqm.
Thus, you can get 900 watts for say 5 hours / day, which is 4.5 kWh.
Lets say you can get this into the battery at 90% efficiency, thus approx 4kWh / sunny day. Lets say you get 3 miles / kWh, 12 miles per sunny day, assuming the van is out all the time and not shadowed.
IMO, you'd be better putting up a solar roof, facing south and try to charge from that, or just run your house and give the rest to the grid and feel good about it. (Or add some batteries, but that will cost quite a bit).
Given all the assumptions, it suggests that testing this is a good idea.


Semi trailers and buses


@SJC, Yes, as long as the trailer is permanently attached to the cab (!).
+ it depends on the roof of the bus.
Old fashioned buses had flat metal roofs which would work fine; many modern buses have air conditioners and Nat Gas storage on the roof, making it a bit of a dog's dinner up there.
You have to balance extra power (or miles) with complexity and cost, both capital and maintenance/repair.
Also, might work well < +-35 degrees from the equator. > 45, less to.

Thomas Pedersen


The beauty of solar panels installed on the vehicle is that they're always connected and installation is the cheapest possible.

These vehicles are almost never connected to the grid while the sun is up.

So it makes for cheap, tarif and tax-free propulsion energy, and provides a modest range extension.


If the bus goes 100 miles 1/2 can be solar power

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