China is in a position to “leapfrog” the rest of the world and take the lead in introducing electric vehicles and technologies, said Ford chief Alan Mulally.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference, Mulally echoed the thoughts of GM’s European head Nick Reilly who said recently that China is in a position to build an EV infrastructure very quickly.

Mulally said: “The US can’t expect to rely on electric cars until the country builds the necessary infrastructure for recharging them. China will be in a leadership position for electric cars. They have a chance to leapfrog the rest of the world.”

Another key roadblock for use of electric vehicles, he said, is the technology involving batteries, which need to be smaller and more powerful.

In terms of other technologies, however, Mulally said that Ford has sped past its competitors in building interfaces for internet radio and mobile phones into its cars rather than embedding the devices themselves.

The approach allows the technology to be operated by voice, rather than requiring the use of a driver’s hands.

Introduced in 2007, Ford’s voice-activated Sync platform controls a car’s entertainment system and provides hands-free cellphone dialing and navigation. Sync also lets drivers attach their own digital music players and is compatible with scores of cellphones, including Blackberrys and iPhones.

Mulally said: “All of our data says that 80% of accidents involve your eyes being off the road, even for a little bit of time. We have to minimise anything that could be a distraction.”