BOSTON General Electric Co (GE.N) said on Wednesday it had made a $4 million investment in Norwegian electric car manufacturer Think, which is unveiling a new plug-in electric car at Geneva's International Motor Show.
GE, the second-largest U.S. company by market capitalization, also said it has invested $20 million in A123 Systems, a technology company based outside Boston that is developing high-capacity, lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars.
GE also said it would open its research center in Niskayuna, New York to help develop batteries for electric and hybrid autos.
Hybrid cars use both a traditional internal combustion engine and an electric motor, while plug-in electric cars draw their power from the grid and store it in batteries.
"Our work with A123 and Think taps GE's unique combination of venture capital, engineering, process and commercial expertise to help burgeoning, next-generation technology companies bring their innovative products to market," said Kevin Walsh, managing director at GE Energy Financial Services.
Rising gasoline prices and concerns about climate change have spurred consumer and investor interest in electric and hybrid vehicles.
General Motors Corp (GM.N) said on Tuesday it planned to begin using more power lithium-ion batteries in its hybrid vehicles in 2010. That upgrade is seen as a step toward its planned plug-in electric model, the Chevrolet Volt.