In recent years, electric vehicles (EVs) have made headway with consumers, yet the industry has largely failed to live up to the hype due to inadequate charging infrastructure, costly vehicles, range fears and concerns about truly being eco-friendly. It's that last point that automakers hope to change by exploring solar power technologies and forging relationships with solar energy providers in order to give consumers the confidence they seek when charging their vehicles at home (where most charging occurs).

Despite being heavily focused on developing hydrogen and CNG fuel systems, Quantum Fuel Systems (NASDAQ:QTWW) actually produced the rooftop solar panels on the now defunct automaker Fisker Karma. The real potential for solar may come from tapping a bigger power canvas throughout the body of a car, not just a rooftop, so innovative companies like Quantum and even DuPont could help revolutionize the way future EV's are charged. Additionally, Nissan, General Motors and Ford have all made their own solar investments in recent years so driving solar power may take a whole new meaning in the future. In fact, SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) and BMW (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF) recently forged an alliance to help consumers power their EVs with solar power. This only solidifies the expectations that tapping solar in the auto world is a hot area investors should focus on. 

John Licata has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow John on Twitter @bluephoenixinc. The Motley Fool recommends BMW, Ford, General Motors, and SolarCity. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and SolarCity. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.