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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Could Silicon Valley take the place of Detroit when it comes to the auto industry? Right now three companies are building electric cars or components. Rachel Dornhelm says the idea is to harness the Bay Area's engineering and innovative talents

RACHEL DORNHELM: Forget fast microchips. Some Silicon Valley engineers have moved on to designing fast cars. Electric ones at that.

Now one of the companies, with financing from Google and PayPal founders, is ready to unveil its first model.

Auto analyst James Rubenstein says even though cars like these are financially out of reach for most, this could still be a turning point in a stagnant industry.

JAMES RUBENSTEIN: the challenge now is will the new fuel technologies come from inside the auto industry as they have for the last century? Or whether we're at a moment in time where outsiders are going to step up and do it.

Rubenstein says most experts believe fuel cells are the future of clean cars, but new developments in electric vehicles may help that technology along.

I'm Rachel Dornhelm for Marketplace.