Tropos is just starting a pilot project with its variable compact transporter ABLE with a new feature that arouses great expectations and seems to have great potential. The manufacturer has equipped its electric vehicle with large-scale solar cells.
Clean energy is the magic word. In electromobility, this is usually understood to mean charging the e-vehicle via a solar system on the house or carport roof. This charging layout has the advantage that – apart from the production of the solar system with the corresponding Co2 backpack – the traction current becomes a zero-emission matter in real terms.
Igniting idea: solar cells on the vehicle
Now, solar power generation is increasingly being integrated into the vehicles themselves. Actually, this is not a new development: concepts for solar-powered cars were shown at car shows years ago, such as the Bluecar by Pininfarina and Bollore’ at the Geneva Motor Show.
Today, manufacturers such as Sono Motors, Lightyear and others are acting in this spirit. Even more than electric cars, however, commercial vehicles with their large surfaces are predestined for such solar solutions. The primary issue is always the ratio of (additional) weight and the gain in range through solar technology. Only in recent years, and especially when, as with the structural battery, the solar panels can also take on load-bearing tasks and thus compensate for their additional weight or even save weight overall, does the matter really make sense.
The additional benefit of being able to supply external electrical devices with this solar power or even to relieve other e-drivers from charging bottlenecks is also not a bad argument for this technology, but it is rather secondary compared to the zero CO2 of the traction current.
What can the Tropos solar transporter do?
The manufacturer from Herne is not yet making any forecasts, it is too early for that. The trial started in June and will run for four months. But the statements sound very confident:
“We expect this solution to be nothing less than a revolution in the market for electronic commercial vehicles,” says Markus Schrick, Managing Director of Tropos Motors Europe. “Initial tests suggest that it could work. Now we are thoroughly testing the technology in real operation for performance and further possible applications. We want to analyse in its entirety what benefits the solar panels can have for our customers.”
A central reason for this initiative is the manufacturer’s view of its products: “We see Tropos as an ecosystem consisting of vehicle, superstructure and digitalisation. Innovative solutions that deliver sustainable added value to our customers are a central part of our philosophy,” says Schrick.
It is to be hoped that it will succeed. Not only for Tropos, but for the entire delivery logistics sector. After all, there is still a lot of potential for optimisation in this area in terms of sustainability.
Text: Werner Köstle