There’s a lot of buzz these days about electric vehicles, as years of prototypes and waiting at last give way to cars like the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius. But if gasoline is no longer king, is there room for solar power in the auto industry?

A lot of solar cars have been built and driven, some of them amazing designs. They’re not actually all that complicated; you could even build your own if you put your mind to it. But the vehicles are very rarely seen on the streets. Those that exist have almost all been built for races, like Australia’s World Solar Challenge or the North American Solar Challenge. These competitions demand long distances, and seeing only half the competitors actually finish the race is typical.

There’s a long way to go from this state of affairs to a world where fossil fuels are a thing of the past and the Sun gets us from Point A to B. But will it ever happen? We break it down.