Less than 16,000 battery electric vehicles and 2,000 plug-in hybrids were produced last year, according to IMS Research. But that figure will soar to 16 million by 2021, thanks in part to government initiatives driving innovation in motor manufacturing.

President Barack Obama wants to see 1 million electric vehicles on US roads by 2015, and his administration has implemented proposals for the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE standards) of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

US automakers have realized that collaboration, rather than direct competition, will get them to these new fuel economy standards and electric vehicles will play a crucial role in reducing their fleetwide average.

Last year, Tesla’s $60 million deal to provide Toyota with a power train for an electric vehicle version of the RAV4 joined a list of other supply-and-partnership agreements the Californian luxury electric vehicle maker already has with Panasonic and Daimler.

Major motor manufacturers and startups are following this approach to collaborative cross-pollination as the fastest route to accelerating products to market.