I think solar powered vehicles serve both purposes. They are indeed gimmicky in the sense that solar powered vehicles are quite far away from reaching the point where they are a viable green vehicle; in that regards, fuel cell powered cars or electric cars are doing much better. However, they also serve to inspire and build interest in green vehicle technology by its gimmicky nature. If this can drive more people into the green vehicle technology sector, then it still has a beneficial impact to our behaviors, if not our policies.
Not only that, but solar-powered vehicles are also encouraging people to find alternative means of transportation. For example, I cannot afford a solar-powered vehicle (I am a college student), so instead I ride my bicycle or my longboard to get to places. Since I cannot afford a solar-powered vehicle, I use the next best thing: either my bicycle or longboard. Solar-powered vehicles not only encourage alternative means of transportation, but I believe that it helps in making a person more informed about issues relating to the environment.
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