Sono and ARI present commercial solar enhanced prototype

10 October 2021

Sono Motors and ARI Motors have presented a new solar enhanced, electrically-chargeable (EV). Dubbed the ‘ARI 458 Kofferaufbau L’, it is designed for last-mile deliveries and urban transportation in cities, parks, industrial areas, and airports.

Made out of ultra-thin, chemically-stressed glass, the prototype’s five photovoltaic (PV) modules can provide up to 450W of energy. Under normal Munich weather conditions, this should equate to a daily average of 20km additional range. In peak summer conditions, the two companies expected this to extend to 48km.

‘The solar integration solutions provided by Sono Motors are the perfect fit for our light vehicle box as it enables us to reduce the vehicle’s dependency on charging infrastructure as well as extend its range and reduce costs. We look forward to working with Sono Motors in the future to make our vehicles even more sustainable,’ said Thomas Kuwatsch, CFO of ARI Motors.

PV prototype

Sono Motors offers various solutions for different modes of transport. This includes vehicle integrated photovoltaics (ViPV), where solar energy generation is integrated into the vehicle’s body. Panels are incorporated into parts of the vehicle like the body panels. 

Then there is vehicle applied photovoltaics (VaPV) used for the ARI 458 Kofferaufbau L prototype. Here, panels are integrated into a pre-existing model with efficiency in mind. Five customised PV modules with 54 solar cells and 90 half cells are applied to the vehicle’s roof and sides.

‘Sono Solar – Sono Motors’ B2B unit – is a one-stop-shop for ViPV, and our aim is to make every vehicle a solar vehicle. The Intersolar exhibition is the perfect platform to show our proprietary technology and services, and we are very pleased to be able to present existing partnerships and prototypes like the electric ARI transporter,’ said Mathieu Baudrit, Sono solar group lead at Sono Motors. ‘This is especially exciting for us, as this is one of the first commercial vehicles in this segment on the streets with our solar integration.’

Sunny disposition

Sono Motors has been exploring different applications of its PV technology. It announced intentions to collaborate with Wallaby Boats, a commercial boat OEM. PVs will be installed onto their ‘Wallaby 18,’ which transports personnel and material for offshore wind parks.

‘The company’s values around reducing fuel consumption and promoting greener commercial boats are a great fit for Sono Motors’ first maritime OEM project,’ Baudrit said. ‘This collaboration further advances Sono’s ‘solar on every vehicle’ goal and is a clear demonstration of the multiple applications of the company’s proprietary solar technology.’

Earlier this year, Sono Motors also entered an agreement with MAN Truck and Bus to investigate the integration of its solar system into the eTGE electric van. In September, it joined a bidirectional charging and car-sharing project in the Netherlands, alongside We Drive Solar.

But chief among Sono Motors’ development efforts is the Sion. Scheduled to enter production in the first half of 2023, its solar panels can generate up to 1.2kW of energy, equal to a weekly average of 112km (245km per week at its peak) in a city like Munich. As of September 2021, there were more than 14,000 individual reservations for the vehicle.