LAS VEGAS — New York Times environmental journalist Jim Motavalli said electric-vehicle marketability depends on "the education of the American people" during a Future of Energy panel presentation at the National Clean Energy Summit.

According to Motavalli, the Obama administration has invested $215 million in electric-vehicle development and has set a goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

"It's an ambitious goal and if that goal is going to succeed, the American people are going to have to recognize the [electric vehicle's] role in our environmental future," said Motavalli.

Regarding electric vehicles' competitiveness in the marketplace, Motavalli said market success would depend on "regulations" and "the American public's belief in global warming" as opposed to natural market forces such as demand for the product.

When discussing a previous failed electric vehicle, the General Motors EV1, Motavalli blamed GM for "not promoting the vehicle well."

"We're likely to see the first [electric] cars clustered in certain neighborhoods," Motavalli said during the question-and-answer portion of the discussion.

"Neighborhoods with zip codes like 90210 will probably see most of these vehicles."

Motavalli was part of a five-person panel discussing clean energy projects across the country. Other panelists included Roger Platt from the U.S. Green Building Council and Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International.