Challenges in ensuring consumers have adequate vehicle charging equipment at convenient locations should be resolved over the next two years, during which auto makers are expected to resolve technology issues that have emerged with batteries they plan to use, Snyder said.

"We're hoping to come across the finish line at the same time," he said.

Read of ECOtality said the five regions in the government-backed pilot project will serve as "separate laboratories" where kinks can be worked out to help ease the transition to electric vehicles across the rest of the U.S. ECOtality predicts that nearly 1 million hybrid and all-electric plug-in vehicles will be on U.S. roads by 2015.

For auto makers, a key challenge will be educating consumers about the limitations of hybrid and all-electric vehicles, said Jana Hartline, a spokeswoman with Toyota Motor Corp. (TM, 7203.TO), which has both types of autos in the works.

"We need to be honest and upfront about what these vehicles can and can't do," Hartline said.


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