The German government has announced plans for a million electric cars on German roads by 2020.

“We’re facing a paradigm change in the automobile industry,” TRANSPORT Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said at a news conference in Berlin today. “It’s our goal to reduce energy consumption and explore new energy sources if Germany wants to keep its place in the world as environmental leader.”

“It is the federal government’s aim that by 2020, there will be a million electric cars on Germany’s streets,” said Berlin’s “national electro-mobility plan” which was approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.

“In 2030, this could be over five million. By 2050, traffic in towns and cities could be predominantly without fossil fuels,” the proposals added.

Berlin plans to spark development in electric cars by offering incentives for research in area such as batteries and recharging systems.

The plan added that Berlin is examining an incentive programme for the purchase of 100,000 electric cars.

However, there are some criticisms in Germany that the plan is too vague. The plan calls for electric cars to be put on the market starting in 2012, but does not specify what if any incentives might be offered to buyers.

Much appears to depend on the shape of the next government following federal elections next month.