In our current period of heightened government influence over the U.S. auto industry -- when collapsed sales have helped to awaken Detroit to the imperative of innovation -- and in the next several years, as plug-in cars become available on the mass market, there's an opportunity for companies to focus more on the software that goes into those vehicles, battery packs and charging stations, or to build up this kind of business as part of a larger venture. As a model that's more directly tied to Silicon Valley's history and expertise, selling and licensing such software may end up being among the better bets for the next wave of innovators and investors vying for a piece of the nascent green car market.
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