There was an intriguing piece in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago flagging the prospect that US electricity suppliers may place large bulk orders for plug-in electric cars (in the tens of thousands).
The motivations appear twofold and are relevant examples of firms trying to take their destiny into their own hands (or to influence their industry environment in a strategic management sense).
Firstly, the utilities firms are seeking to drive (ouch, nasty pun!) producers towards this option by subsidising them (partially) through the difficult embryonic loss-making development stage. Clearly the electricity suppliers see these vehicles, and the firms that produce them, as complementors, with substantial scope to increase the demand for their product (presumably at the expense of the oil companies).
Secondly, the electricity suppliers are seeking to better handle any subsequent demand shock (oh, it’s pun central!) that will surface if such vehicles become commonplace. The article notes the significant dramas caused by the adoption of air-conditioners (which shifted demand spikes from winter to summer). The utilities firms are being suitably forward-thinking in exploring the impact of overnight recharging. Perhaps it will also allow them to have some collective impact on the technology developments themselves.