Martin Leach, a consultant who once led Ford's European operations, is reportedly recruiting staff for a new electric car manufacturer that will be based in California and the US.

Leach declined to name the company involved and told Reuters that the company "is not a company with a background in the car industry". And that has fired up speculation today.

The electric car space is attracting interest from outside the traditional and established automotive producers, exemplified by the arrival of Tesla's models to the market. At the same time, companies such as Apple and Google are also signalling greater interest in the automotive sector led by advances in autonomous vehicle technologies as well as electrification.

Apple has recruited engineers from the automotive industry to work on its automotive project, said to include a self-driving electric car, codenamed Project Titan. Reports recently emerged that the company has advanced as far as needing a test facility for prototypes.

China-based internet search engine Baidu has also talked up its efforts to develop a Google-style autonomous car.