European governments and carmakers will have to get their act together quickly over electric vehicles or get over-run by the Chinese.
Nick Reilly, the British boss of General Motors Europe, which controls Vauxhall and Opel, warned that the Chinese government and carmakers in the country are already investing huge amounts of money in EVs.
"Everyone thinks that Chinese carmakers lag behind Europe, the US and Japan in terms of technology but they are catching up fast. Backed by the government they are learning quickly and embracing environmental vehicles.
"The infrastructure is being put in place, the numbers of EVs being produced is growing and that means costs will come down."
Although some European governments have committed to incentives and grants to help people afford EVs, others, notably Germany, have yet to commit.
Reilly said: "I'm not quite sure why they are holding back. We are not going to be selling hundreds of thousands of EVs in the short term so some sort of incentive is not going to cost a lot of money."
He said that if Chinese carmakers were allowed to take a lead, they could be in pole position to introduce low-priced EVs leaving European manufacturers to play catch-up.