Just read an article about cars of 2020 and remembered the conversation I've had recently. The person I was talking to said "Oh yeah, *now* you will start seeing real progress!" I said "Why?" and got this in return:
Until now, all the progress regarding green technologies (at least in US) was hampered by the fact that the Big Three had a very cozy relation with the Big Oil and didn't have a need to do anything at all. The demand for vehicles with high gas consumption was lobbied and advertised, and all was well and good.
And then, he said, the oil prices skyrocketed.
The automotive industry, he said, felt betrayed. They've been delivered a death blow at the moment they weren't doing so well already.
Now they're pissed and won't try to appease the Big Oil anymore. They've been demonstrated that no amount of lobbying and "vendor relations" gives them any guarantees when there is a chance of reaping an immediate benefit. In other words, Exxon reports record profits, whereas for Big Three, a government donation is considered. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Whereas I don't believe that the problems the Big Three is having is closely related to gas prices (other manufacturers have been successfully chasing them into the single MPG territory), but rather due to extreme crappiness of their products, it would definitely be interesting to see what they'll come up with. So far, nothing spectacular - say, Ford's hybrid SUVs have no more appeal to me than their regular SUVs - their Tin Lizzy pedigree shows way too well. And with everybody jumping on the green bandwagon, they will have to do much better than they did before in order to become competitive again.
I'm not holding my breath.