On August 31, 1955, GM’s vision of the future was unveiled at Motorama. This vision was the Sunmobile. Though it was nothing more than a 15-inch model of a 1955 Corvette which was equipped with 8 solar cells on the hood, the model actually worked, and was even driven across the Motorama stage.
Of course, the model was just some simple solar cells connected directly to a motor with little to no control, but the concept was there. Certain modern cars such as the Nissan Leaf and the Fisker Karma have used solar panels to power accessories such as the air conditioning and the radio, but no production car so far has successfully utilized solar panels to recharge the main batteries.
Years later in 1987, the GM Sunraycer was made. This solar powered, full sized racer competed in and won the very first World Solar Challenge. 32 years from when the Sunmobile was revealed, GM still hadn’t given up on the idea of a solar powered car.
So, while we live in a world with robots piloting hovercycles and data mining, we still don’t have ourselves a mass-produced solar-powered car. Probably because Exxon Mobil can’t monetize it. But even 60 years ago, GM dared to dream.