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Sono Motors and CHEREAU to codevelop photo voltaic refrigerated trailer to be unveiled at IAA 2022


Solar electric vehicle startup Sono Motors has announced a purchase contract with European refrigerated trailer expert CHEREAU to codevelop a solar-powered version for fleet trucks and trailers. Together, the companies hope to leverage Sono’s solar technology to reduce both fuel costs and CO2 emissions. The new solar-powered refrigerated vehicle is expected to debut at IAA Transportation 2022 in September.

Sono Motors is a German automotive startup founded in 2016 that focuses specifically on solar electric vehicles. By integrating proprietary solar panels into the exterior of its flagship Sion SEV, the vehicle can gather an additional 70 to 150 miles of range per week from the sun alone.

The Sion is currently in its series-validation phase and remains on track to begin deliveries to all current reservation holders by 2023. In addition to developing its own SEV, Sono Motors has partnered with several other companies to integrate its solar technology into new vehicles to help lower emissions.

This includes an EZ10 autonomous shuttle prototype, developed with EasyMile, as well as a solar truck trailer with Finnish company Valoe. In May of 2021, the company announced it was working with MAN to develop solar vans, including a potential refrigeration system.

To date, Sono Motors’ solar business has 16 partners around the globe. Following today’s announcement, number 17 is now Reefer Group subsidiary, CHEREAU.

solar refrigerated trailer
Some of Sono Motors’ solar integration / Source: Sono Motors

Sono and CHEREAU to co-develop solar refrigerated trailer

Sono Motors announced its latest collaboration with CHEREAU via a press release outlining development plans under a purchase contract with the latter’s parent company, The Reefer Group – an international leader in refrigerated bodies.

As part of the collaboration, Sono Motors and CHEREAU will build an initial refrigerated trailer vehicle for extensive testing to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of such solar solutions in a high-volume production setting.

To prepare for such scaled production, Sono Motors stated that it is already developing its solar technology on refrigerated semitrailers which can provide energy savings of up to 80% compared to diesel. Sono Motors Cofounder and CEO Laurin Hahn spoke about the company’s latest contract:

This partnership is a huge step for Sono Motors, since we open up a completely new industry for our highly flexible and proprietary Sono Solar technology. We offer a lightweight and adaptable platform that is ideal for refrigerated trailers and allows customers in the transportation industry to cut costs and emissions throughout their fleet. We are very pleased for the opportunity to collaborate with such a respected industry partner like CHEREAU and to be able to work with them towards creating a more sustainable future. We look forward to all the opportunities that this partnership can create.

Here are some of the benefits Sono Motors expects to achieve on the solar-powered refrigerated trailer:

  • Solar integration will provide the trailer’s refrigerated unit with an additional 9.8 kW peak
  • Potential fuel savings of approximately 3,416 liters (up to 8,475 under peak conditions)
  • Reduce local CO2 emissions by approximately 9 tons per year, per vehicle compared to trailers with diesel-powered cooling units

Sono Motors shared that it will be rigging the roof and sides of an existing CHEREAU trailer with fifty-four solar modules using the vehicle applied photovoltaic (VaPV) process, developed specifically for use in cargo-box vehicles like CHEREAU’s refrigerated semitrailer.

The solar-powered refrigerated trailer will make its official debut at IAA Transportation 2022 in Hannover, Germany. The event will take place September 20–25 of this year. Following the official unveiling, Sono states that the trailer will immediately begin several months of intensive tests through a trial by a CHEREAU customer in France.

Part of the testing process will include validating some of the numbers mentioned above as they pertain to energy earnings and fuel savings. We will keep an eye out at IAA to get a first glimpse of the initial solar-powered refrigeration trailer.

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