Solar Panels Are Slowly Making Their Way Onto Cars

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but what about a free ride? Think of how great it would be if your car could keep running without you spending a dime on fuel. If you drove a solar-powered car, that dream could be a lot closer to a reality. Much like solar-powered homes, solar cars harness energy from the sun and then convert it into electricity. That electricity then fuels the car's powertrain, which is similar to the combination of an electric motor and battery-based energy storage that drives modern hybrid cars. The renewed interest in solar panels on cars is less about the panels themselves becoming better, and more about the fact that hybrid and electric cars and their infrastructure is better. In other words, it's easier and more affordable than ever for consumers to go buy a readily available electric or hybrid car, and these cars are more efficient, easier to charge, and have fewer compromises overall than EVs and hybrids of just a couple generations ago. That means there are more people who can take advantage of solar power to run a car, and that solar power will literally go farther than it would have in the past. It's unlikely that we'll see a car that can be fully powered by a solar panel integrated into the roof, because a panel that size is just too small to produce the power needed.