For many motorists interested in buying an electric vehicle, they've refrained from the purchase because of apprehension that they could be stranded somewhere without a place to refuel.

Ditto for many others who may be interested in buying vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).

The question remains: Which comes first? Should the nation wait for consumer demand to trudge along to reach 'critical mass' --or-- should we adapt a more proactive 'build it and they will come' philosophy?

GM Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson says it's time to get the show on the road. His said his company is turning out more natural gas-fueled vehicles, which means there is a need for more natural gas stations in the United States. He envisions a national panel that would develop a long-term energy plan with natural gas as its foundation.

“Everywhere you look, there's an opportunity to seize the energy high ground,” he said, calling on the president to cobble together a commission to come up with the energy plan. “There's a clear need, and it has long-term impact on many levels,” he said.

Akerson joined a growing number of experts and industry analysts requesting more natural gas fueling stations in order to expand the number of natural gas-fueled vehicles on the road. Already, more gasoline stations are adding compressed natural gas pumps to their forecourts, such as Kwik Trip, Stripes and Flying J. ?

When he met with members of the Houston Chronicle's editorial board last week, he rhetorically asked, "“Why can’t we get natural gas refueling stations at one out of four gasoline stations?”

For the country to effectively play the cards we've been dealt, we need to leverage our energy benefits... and that means capitalizing on the natural gas that is accessible from the boom in hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking'. GM has developed a new engine that will burn either gasoline or compressed natural gas — all the car needs are separate fuel tanks — but the market for such innovation is obviously limited if motorists are unable to access fuel that has, to date, been mostly reserved for commercial fleets.

“If you really want to take advantage of a gift, you have to change your infrastructure,” Akerson said. He stopped short of saying exactly what the government’s role should be, although he seemed to favor some sort of federal mandate on service stations.

What do you think? Is it time for government to prod the private sector or perhaps offer an incentive for developing CNG availability?