Sono Motors and EasyMile Reveal Collaboration on Autonomous Solar-Powered Passenger Shuttle

Sono Motors and EasyMile are equipping an EZ10 autonomous shuttle prototype with Sono Motors’ patented solar technology, testing a new energy concept for electric and driverless shuttles.

The Munich based solar mobility provider plans to transfer flexible solar panels to a variety of platforms, now including the EZ10. This could unlock a new type of energy-efficient transportation which could really make a difference to the still weak spread of charging stations for electric vehicles.

The joint venture was recently revealed at the virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 with Sono Motors announcing its intention to license its unique solar technology to other companies. Its solar technology modifies a vehicle's exterior by installing solar cells integrated into flexible polymers instead of glass. This makes it lighter, robust, cheaper and more efficient than any other vehicle solar technology currently available.

This technique allows the company to integrate solar panels on a variety of vehicle types creating a number of new application possibilities. Because of the large contact area on buses and trucks, these vehicles are particularly suitable to be fitted with the flexible panels. 

The EZ10 electric shuttle, which has already been used in more than 30 countries around the world, operates up to 16 hours with one battery charge and must be plugged-in for around  6 hours to be fully re-charged from empty. This could be dramatically shortened with the new solar technology

The solar cells convert sunlight into energy that is stored in the vehicle’s battery. Solar cells, which produce energy no matter whether a vehicle is driving or parked, can significantly increase the range of the electric vehicle. 

This could give the driverless shuttle even more autonomy as it would be more independent of the available charging infrastructure. A big cost-saver for private sites as well as an advantage for the many communities that use the shuttle as an extension of the public transportation network.

The solar body panels aren’t designed to replace traditional charging methods. They instead can reduce the number of charging intervals. This solar-powered approach is an efficient and quick way of promoting electric mobility.

About EasyMile

EasyMile develops autonomous technology and vehicle solutions for passenger and goods transportation worldwide, its award-winning technology is leading in the field of autonomous driving. The company's unique software can be integrated in numerous other vehicle platforms allowing reliable and safe operations without an existing infrastructure and under mixed traffic conditions. It’s people mover solution, the EZ10, is the most-deployed driverless shuttle in the world and is already being operated in more than 30 countries to relieve local public transport. 

EasyMile's autonomous vehicle solutions play a decisive role for the mobility of the future; they not only enable seamless and individual mobility for passenger transport by closing so-called first-last-mile transport gaps, but also automate the flow of goods in logistics processes. The technology company works closely with its partners on the latest technologies in the areas of software, robotics and artificial intelligence in order to further develop the vision of autonomous driving. 

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Sono Motors is on a mission to enable a revolutionary mobility system, where every electric vehicle is solar, shared, and independent from fossil-fuels. Today, an experienced specialist team is developing a forward-looking electric car that is suitable for daily use, the Sion. Both the Sion’s integrated solar technology and innovative mobility services will enable users to access clean mobility, harness solar energy and reduce CO2 impacts. 

Sono Motors was founded in 2016 and has rapidly grown to more than 200 employees today. The team combines a range of burgeoning global talent with industry veterans, including former employees from BMW, Nissan, Chrysler, Daimler, Audi, Mozilla, Sixt, FlixBus and mytaxi. Since its foundation, the company has raised approximately €100 million through reservations and funding. The company released its first generation Sion prototype in 2017 and has amassed 14,000 reservations with advance payments. In 2018, Sono Motors was recognized as a Solar Impulse Efficient Solution by the Solar Impulse Foundation. In January of 2020, Sono Motors successfully closed one of the largest community crowdfunding campaigns in Europe.
Sono Motors’ Sion intends to blend disruptive technology with affordability to enable individual contribution to global sustainability. The Sono solar technology replaces traditional paint with proprietary integrated solar panels that can form to various applications. Additionally, the Sion’s solar panels can add 112 km or 70 mi on average (up to 245 km or 152 mi) of additional driving range per week to the car’s battery. The Sion is expected to have the lowest TCO (total cost of ownership) in its category at the start of production, which is scheduled for the first half of 2023.