While the Prius is more practical than high efficiency solar vehicles, why not add some solar to the Prius anyway? This solar kit from SEV seamlessly installs onto a Prius' roof and claims to add up to 20 miles per day of electric mode driving/increase fuel economy up to 29%. Compatible with Prius models from 2004-06, I'm enough of a cynic that I figure if the installation worked that well, the panels would have come standard in the first place (though we've heard that they are under consideration for next gen models). Then again, the 2-3 year "break even" scenario that SEV pitches on their website may have something to do with it. [SEV via Jalopnik]
@OMG! Ponies!: I am not certain I buy into solar panels as roads (the technology is not there yet, nor our budget) nor kinetic energy capturing (all we are doing there is stealing energy from vehicles), but it would be nice if we could at least get more solar panels and wind farms running.
As for the solar panels on the roof of a car, I am not certain why Honda, Toyota and the rest of them have not already done this. I suspect it is rooted in two issues:
1. It only adds a smaller percentage of energy to the vehicle.
2. It does not pay for itself in a short enough period of time given current gas prices.
Both of these are piss-poor arguments, of course. I get particularly upset with economic arguments against concepts that save energy since they proceed from the fallacy that we should all be driving a Kia Spectra each day. As soon as I read that high-end vehicles never pay for themselves with their luxury, refinement and horsepower, then I might consider the argument more carefully.