CAR WARS

Watch Out, Detroit

As if things weren't bad enough for America's moribund auto industry -- China is muscling into the world of cars with a government-backed plan to dominate the electric and hybrid car market in just three years. Already lagging behind Japan in the market for high-efficiency vehicles, China's emergence threatens to knock it back even further if it can't keep up with its new Asian rival. Plug-in cars, which can travel only up to 120 miles per charge, are a good fit for China, where long-distance commutes between cities are uncommon and urban pollution is a major problem. American auto makers are hoping that a $25 billion government-sponsored program in the U.S. to develop electric-powered cars, part of President Obama's stimulus package, will help them compete.