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Munich's solar-powered rechargeable bus
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Munich buses will soon run on solar power

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Germany's third largest city, Munich, is about to test a hybrid bus partially powered by solar energy. The goal is to save up to 2,500 liters of diesel annually per vehicle.


Munich’s Deputy Mayor, Katrin Habenschaden, has stated that, "Our transport sector needs a change of direction”. To reduce CO₂ emissions and improve the city’s air quality, the Münchner Verkehrsgesellschaft (“Munich Transport Company”) has partnered with Sono Motors for the development of a fleet of solar-powered hybrid buses. Sono, a German start-up, has designs for a solar electric car; and above all, for a bus fitted with a 12m² solar roof composed of 20 semi-flexible photovoltaic panels capable altogether of charging a 24V battery and providing more than 2 kilowatts in total power. The system also offers the bonus of being able to operate the vehicle’s heating and air conditioning systems.

Key figures

Although the bus will still partially run on diesel, the company says that the hybrid system would see each vehicle save 2,500 liters in diesel and 6.5 tons in CO₂ emissions annually.

Total annual savings across the whole of a fleet averaging 300 buses will therefore amount to something like 2,000 tons in CO₂ - not to mention the fact that the additional electricity being generated in this way will, according to the company, stabilize the batteries’ energy supply, hence extending their operational life while reducing maintenance costs.

Munich dreams of being green

Testing is expected to begin later this year, with a prototype of the new model being hooked onto a bus from the current fleet and dragged behind like a trailer. The main purpose of the experiment is to assess the new technology’s energy-efficiency and overall potential. The hope is to get as many vehicles of this kind on the road within a few short year.

 “The transport sector is still missing most of its climate change targets, something that has had a negative effect on air quality in Munich. Solar buses have a key role to play in satisfying this urgent need to achieve more climate-friendly mobility”.

Katrin Habenschaden, Munich’s Deputy Mayor.

Having already established a number of “environmental zones” where only vehicles licensed with a green sticker are allowed to circulate, Munich aims to have a largely zero emission bus system within a decade or so –  and generate enough electricity to satisfy its entire energy needs by the year 2025.