So where does all this leave us? The downsides of the vehicles and the lack of dedication from the auto industry mean that solar cars aren’t going to be dominating the market in the near future. But don’t mistake that for a death sentence. Solar technology has made remarkable progress in the last few years, and the potential upside of these advances will translate into more research and more advances.
The Guinness World Record for the fastest solar-powered car was broken this year, and as the electric vehicle market expands, it’s easy to believe there’s room for solar power to join the pack. Eventually, we will hit a tipping point when the cars become affordable and practical, and their costs are outweighed by their savings in gasoline. When that will happen is impossible to know.
There is an intermediate step, however, one that Toyota has made available for the Prius: Use solar panels as one of multiple power sources. After all, the hybrid Prius helped bridge the gap between purely gasoline cars and the EVs that are now taking more and more of the market.