Sono Motors works with MAN to integrate solar panels into vans

Sono Motors has announced it has signed a letter of intent with MAN Truck & Bus to explore integration of Sono’s solar technology into MAN’s eTGE electric transporter van. The companies will begin with three separate applications surrounding the eTGE, including air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. If proven successful, this combination could serve other purposes for both commercial and consumer applications.

Sono Motors was founded in 2016 with the goal of creating innovative mobility services without the dependency on fossil fuels. This EV startup has developed a solar electric vehicle (SEV) called the Sion that can add up to an additional 150 miles of range per week by harnessing the power of the sun. In addition to SEVs, Sono Motors has built its entire company around clean mobility, sustainability, and affordability.

On the other side of the table, MAN Truck & Bus is one of the Europe’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturers. Their product portfolio includes vans, trucks, buses, as well as services related to passenger transport and freight transport. The MAN ETGE van is one of the manufacturer’s electric options, offering 120-130 km (75-80 mi) range in everyday use.

Sono Motors MAN
A rendering of MAN’s eTGE van with solar panels integrated.

Sono Motors x MAN Truck & Bus

In a press release this morning, Sono announced it has signed a letter of intent with MAN to “investigate the technical and economic feasibility of integrating the Sono Solar technology into MAN’s eTGE electric transporter.” The companies plan to investigate three separate applications surrounding solar implementation of the van:

  • The MAN eTGE panel van
  • MAN eTGE combi with a powerful on-roof air conditioning system
  • A MAN eTGE van with a refrigeration system

In terms of these applications, Sono Motors will focus on achieving additional range in the case of the MAN van, or self-sufficient energy supply for auxiliary components such as the AC and refrigeration systems. Jona Christians, cofounder and CEO of 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.

Due to the larger surface area on the MAN eTGE van compared to passenger vehicles, Sono Motors’ solar panels are particularly suitable for commercial applications, like last-mile delivery. This is complimented by Sono’s’ polymer-based design, which offers a solar solution that can be more easily integrated in complex shapes and designs.

If successful, solar technology can potentially reduce the energy requirements and charging intervals required, allowing for longer range. There is no timeline on when this research will begin if it hasn’t already, keep an eye on our Sono Motors guide for the latest updates moving forward.

Electrek‘s take

While the immediate focus of these two companies is commercial use and additional range, there is another potential application that could lead EV enthusiasts to keep an eye on this collaboration – a solar EV camper van.

Sono’s solar technology should prove much more successful on its upcoming Sion car, which was specifically designed to gain range from the sun. In the case of integration on MAN’s eTGE van, the bigger focus will be on the aforementioned auxiliary boosts from Sono Motors’ solar technology.

Air conditioning, refrigeration, and heat can be crucial perks for a plush camping experience, and being able to source that additional power from the sun could prove rather enticing for consumers. For now, we will have to see how well the integration works and if a full partnership blossoms. But with both commercial and consumer application prospects on the horizon already, the idea feels promising.

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