General Motors has mounted a robust defence of electric vehicles and of the US auto industry that is rapidly regaining confidence and sales as buyers return to the market.

Addressing the Automotive News World Congress delegates at last night's (16 January) closing dinner in Detroit, GM North America president, Mark Reuss, predicted a bright future for electric vehicles - despite acknowledging pessimism surrounding the concept.

"It is another urban myth that I get, frankly, tired of," said Reuss. "The electric car is not dead. We are talking about a massive transformation as an industry and as a nation - it takes a long time to change habits and a way of life.

"I believe the public will accept and embrace electric vehicles - we will get there. We will see the day when we see an electric car that offers 300 miles of range."

Reuss added GM's Volt tripled sales last year despite "the beat down it took."

He also delivered a strong defence of the automaker's place in the US economy following its resurgence after extremely challenging times.

"It was [the] best of times, it was the worst of times," said Reuss, quoting Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. "A lot of people have written obituaries far too early - this industry shifted 15m vehicles - great news for this industry and this country.

"The auto industry is America's largest exporter and is among its largest consumer of steel and glass. GM, Ford and Chrysler employ two out of three autoworkers in the US. We [GM] are poised to announce US$1.5bn or so [of] investment in North America this year, so stay tuned.

"For the most part, people are buying our vehicles because they are great vehicles, not because there is a gift basket of cash on the hood. "