Toyota discontinued sales and production of the purely electrical vehicle RAV4-EV in 2003. The Toyota website states:
"Although a significant marketing effort was undertaken for the RAV4-EV, we only sold about 300 vehicles a year" and "[...] technical issues tied to electric vehicles remain a major hurdle [...]".
There was no conspiracy against electric cars, no technology was being held back to serve oil or state interests. If any individual had knowledge of such technology, its sale would yield instant wealth.
For the electric car, it was mainly a question of battery efficiency that had to improve beyond some threshold. Surely, the higher price of oil now provides a strong incentive for technologists to develop and reintroduce the electric car again. Tesla Motors Roadster is in production, while Mitsubishi's i MiEV will hit the market later. In Denmark, it has been decided to waiver the usual 180% tax on cars, if it is an electric car.
Written later after watching Who Killed The Electric Car.
On the other hand, the individual car company benefits from engines that need spare parts. Electric car engines, it is said, need less maintenance and spare parts. If hydrogen became the future main power source for vehicles, rather than electricity, oil companies could possibly transform their existing infrastructure.