Wired has a nice article on the history of Tesla, the new electric car company that demonstrated what might be possible by making it’s dashing Roadster:
The auto industry began to take notice of the little startup with the big ideas. In January 2007, GM unveiled a prototype electric vehicle called the Chevrolet Volt. In an interview with Newsweek, Bob Lutz, then GM’s vice chair, said, “If some Silicon Valley startup can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it’s unfeasible.” That same year, Daimler unveiled plans to develop an electric version of its Smart car. Suddenly, the major carmakers were moving into electrics so fast that Tesla risked being left behind by the wave it had generated.