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Two books ask: will the electric car ever be the car of the present?

To Tillemann, a fellow at the left-leaning New America Foundation and a former policy adviser with the Energy Department, principled and tough-minded regulation is largely the answer. Indeed, while “The Great Race” spans the earnest and often contentious efforts of policymakers in China, Japan and the United States to develop — and own — the car of the future, the author’s primary protagonists are institutional. In this regard, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the undisputed hero.