Almost one in three cars on the roads could be electric by 2020, according to the former head of Rover.
Professor Kevin Morley said a “significant” number of cars would be zero-emissions in 10 years' time, but added the technology needs to be much better before there can be mass appeal.
“In 10 years a significant amount of cars will be electric, and by that I am talking around 30 to 40 per cent,” he said.
But he believes electric cars need to have at least a 200-mile range and a charging time of around 10 minutes. Morley estimates this could be a commercial reality by 2012.
“The technology must be there soon,” he said.
In April this year the government announced that motorists will be offered incentives of up to £5000 to buy electric cars from 2011.
The £250 million scheme will also result in key UK cities becoming testing grounds for how drivers will use and charge their new vehicles.