The electric vehicle battery powered cars will start being competitive with gas-powered ones in about five years, the U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu, said at the annual U.N. climate talks.

It's not like its 10 years off. It's about five years and it could be sooner. Meanwhile the batteries we do have today are soon going to get better by a factor of two, Chu said.

Chu is one of three Obama administration officials that have visited the talks among 190 countries, which was held at a Mexican beach resort through Dec. 10. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Nancy Sutley, the head of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, are the other two.

The governments across the world have set aside billions of dollars in the form of subsidies for early adopters of these alternative energy cars and to boost production of batteries for such vehicles despite persisting doubts about how many people will actually buy them

The Department of Energy said it is investing $2.85 billion in electric vehicles of which $2 billion will go to help US carmakers produce advanced vehicle batteries and drive train components. Around $400 million will be invested to buy, test, and deploy different types of electric vehicles in the marketplace, and $300 million in cost-share projects under the 'Clean Cities' program.

According to a recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, plug-in electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles, have the potential to make up 9% of auto sales in 2020 and 22% in 2030 (1.6 million and 4 million vehicle sales respectively).

Earlier last month, China had said annual production of electric vehicles will hit one million units by 2020 and become world's largest auto market for new energy vehicles, which will hold the key for development of the country's auto industry.

The Chinese government is developing the industry of energy-saving and new-energy vehicles as part of its green drive. A pilot program has been set up to promote energy-efficient and new-energy vehicles in 25 cities and popularize use of electric vehicles with the government providing subsidies for buying vehicles.

The development of electric vehicles is likely to get a further boost following the Chinese science and technology ministry's plans to revise policies for its development between 2011 and 2015.

 An estimated 8.5 billion Yuan ($128.3 billion) has entered the electric car industry so far from capital markets. This fund is likely to help build up the country's battery output, which will be capable of supplying 150,000 electric vehicles by October 2011.

Electric vehicles (EVs) purchased in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to fuel the vehicle.

Below is the list of electric cars, which will hit the US roads in 2011.

Company                               Car model

General Motors                      Chevrolet Volt

Ford                                       Ford Focus BEV

                                              Ford Escape Hybrid

Toyota                                   Toyota Rav4 EV

                                              Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Honda                                    Honda Fit EV

Mitsubishi                               Mitsubishi i-Car

Wheego                                 Wheego Life

Fisker                                    Fisker Karma

Tesla                                     Tesla Roadster

                                              Tesla Model S

Coda                                     Coda Electric Sedan

Aptera                                   Aptera 2e electric three-wheel car