Why Don’t Electric Cars Have Solar Panels?

Making clean energy for cars has been a constant search. There are many other things that could charge an electric car but they have not been implemented yet, like wind turbines or solar panels, and maybe that is for a reason.

So why aren’t solar panels on electric cars? Electric cars do not have solar panels because when solar panels are on cars, they are only converting 15%-20% of the energy from the sun. The solar panels would only give about 3 miles of energy in one hour of charging. This is very inefficient and currently doesn’t make sense to use on electric cars yet.

Having solar panels on electric cars has been a debate for a long time, but they have never been implemented into the top models. Is this for a reason? In this article, you will learn why solar panels shouldn’t be used on electric cars, what electric cars use them, and if there is a better alternative.

Why Aren’t Solar Panels On Electric Cars?

Solar panels aren’t found on electric cars because they are very inefficient. As stated above, one hour of being placed in the sunlight will only yield 3 miles of charge. Since the batteries and the motors are the main things that need power, a solar panel system placed on the car would not be able to support the amount of power needed.

Solar panels are also extremely expensive to make, and car manufacturers would not waste their most valuable resources, like money, on something that could be replaced by another charging option that is cheap. Having solar panels on the car would cost an extra $6,000, not including maintenance costs. When an electric car needs about 400 kWh a year, it would be a monumental task to get enough charge for your car every day.

Another reason that electric cars don’t have solar panels is that there is not enough surface area on a car to catch the amount of sunlight needed to produce an efficient charge for the car to run on. The only place solar panels could be put on the car is the roof, and maybe the hood. There is not enough surface area to catch the sunlight, which means it cannot be converted into much energy.

Since solar panels are very inefficient, in many different ways, you’d think those car companies would not want solar panels on their cars, but many continue to work on better results. Researchers are trying to make them more efficient so they can be better for the environment.

Have There Been Cars That Used Solar Panels In Its Design?

As was stated above, many car companies are continuing to make electric cars with solar panels including on the model. But these cars do not run on solar power alone, because there is not enough power to support the car.

Sion from Sono Motors

This electric car has around 248 solar cells located on it. There is also a charging port because it cannot be charged, fully on sunlight alone. This car can drive about 190 miles, or 350 kilometers, on a fully charged battery. It costs around $30,000. This is one of the most affordable options for an electric car.

Lightyear One

This car has an impressive 450-mile range on one full charge. The company website talks about how this car can go for months without recharging, yet the car only gains 7.5 miles in 1 hour of solar charging. This car costs a staggering amount of $135,000. This car has not yet debuted but will become available at the late end of 2021.

Toyota bZ4X

This is still only a concept car for Toyota, but it could be implemented into dealerships very soon. This car will cost somewhere around $40,000. Its range is to be somewhere between 250 miles-300 miles on one charge. Since this is only a concept car, there is still a lot to learn about it.

There are still other electric cars that are beginning to put solar panels on their cars, but they were not far enough into development in order to be put on this list. These 3 cars are all great choices, but they do show that cars cannot run on solar power by themselves.

With the example of all of these cars, we can tell that solar charge is not efficient enough to charge a whole car. They still need to include charging ports because the solar charge option is not very efficient for a fast charge.

Would Using Solar Panels On Cars Actually Help The Environment?

Solar panels have been used for a long time as a clean source of energy. But the question is, are they a clean source of energy for cars? It may be more damaging to the environment to produce enough of them for cars because they do not give much return in energy levels.

The production of solar panels is found to create CO2 pollution, but not as much as burning coal would for the environment. This means that if the technology for more efficient solar panels were made, then the output would not matter in the long run, because you would be using much more energy.

The other problem of solar panels comes from harmful chemicals that can be found in the creation process for making solar panels. These chemicals, like hydrofluoric acid and sodium hydroxide, can leak into the soil and create more earth pollution. Even though this is very rare, this would degrade the entire purpose of solar panels. There are many other toxic things found in solar panels like lead, cadmium, and arsenic that can harm the earth. These problems would become much more pronounced if they were mass-produced for cars.

Until there is a way for solar panels to be easily produced, at a low cost, with little pollution created, it is better to just stick with charging the car the normal way. Unfortunately, there will always be pollution created when an item is mass-produced. But there needs to be a product that produces something less than the other products on the market. Research on solar panels will be better in the future and they will be much cheaper to produce. With this development, the world’s pollution level will drop dramatically, but that is still in the future.

Is There Something, Rather Than Solar Panels, That Can Produce Energy For Electric Cars?

Many people have speculated over the different kinds of charges that have the ability to power cars. We have already talked about solar panels, but some other charges that others have thought about are generators, wind turbines, and the regular charger.

The best choice for charging your electric car is still the regular charger. There is not enough technology to make solar energy, or wind energy efficient enough to power a car on its own. Research is being done in order to advance this technology, but it may be a number of years before the big car brands start to implement different energy options into their car models.

There are many charging stations that use solar power in order to provide more charging power for the customer. It is easier for the solar panels at the stations to collect enough power to charge the cars because there is enough surface area to catch the sunlight. Charging stations that are powered by wind turbines are, currently, being put into development.


Having a clean source of energy has been one of the most important things that scientists continue to research. Even though some power sources are not attainable now, I believe that they will be in the near future. Such as technology like solar panels, wind turbines, etc.

Solar panels should not be placed on cars now, because they are not efficient enough to uphold the charge in an electric car. Although, they might be used in the near future as the technology gets better. The same thing goes for any other power source. Solar panels may not be on cars now, but they are already being used to charge power stations. They just create another step to charging your electric car.

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