MAN Truck & Bus to explore Sono Solar tech for its eTGE electric transporter

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 10 May 2021


German commercial vehicle major MAN Truck & Bus and EV start-up Sono Motors have signed a letter of intent (LoI) to explore the technical and economic feasibility of integrating the Sono Solar technology into MAN’s eTGE electric transporter.

MAN’s eTGE electric SCV is targeted for the urban and regional operations. The OEM says 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.

The Sono Solar technology offers a lightweight, robust and cost-effective solar solution that can adapt to a range of complex geometries thanks 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, like last-mile-delivery. The vehicle-integrated photovoltaic solutions (ViPV) are not intended to replace existing energy storage systems such as batteries or fuel cells. But 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 utilised for auxiliary users such as heating, air conditioning or refrigeration units.

Jona Christians, co-founder and CEO, Sono Motors, said: "It is a great opportunity for Sono Motors to team up with such a respected industry partner as MAN and to work together for a more sustainable future. Our Sono Solar technology offers a lightweight and adaptable platform that is ideal for light commercial vehicles such as MAN's battery-powered eTGE. We look forward to all the opportunities that these two sustainable technologies can bring together."

The partners are exploring three applications that are to be equipped with Sono Solar technology and investigated: 

  • 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 the 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.

Dennis Affeld, SVP and head of Sales Truck & Van, MAN Truck & Bus said: "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."