BERLIN (AFP) — The German goverment and industrial partners including auto giant Volkswagen launched Thursday a programme to encourage the development of more environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles.
Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel pledged 15 million euros (23.5 million dollars) to the project which has four years to come up with prototypes able to charge batteries using renewable sources of energy such as the wind or the sun.
Another goal is to develop advanced batteries for the vehicles.
In addition to VW, which unveiled its Golf "Twin Drive" hybrid model, the energy group EON is also in the programme.
VW head Martin Winterkorn said that while petrol or diesel powered cars would be around for some time to come, "the future belongs to all-electric cars."
The biggest European carmaker plans to offer such a model in 2010, as does German rival Daimler.
Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, a widely-quoted German expert on automotive development, forecast in an interview with the Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein Zeitung newspaper that by 2025, "all cars sold in Europe will be electric or hybrid cars."
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