"To me, [AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV)] is first and foremost a defense contractor ... dogfighting giants like Boeing (NYSE:BA), Lockheed (NYSE:LMT), and Northrop (NYSE:NOC) for unmanned-aerial supremacy in the sky. ... As for AV's ... fast-charging rechargeable batteries ... basically, I've written off "PosiCharge" as a technological curiosity, but little more."

How wrong I was. When Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation AeroVironment inked a deal to distribute PosiCharge systems at Toyota (NYSE:TM) forklift rental locations across the U.S. last year, I should have seen the writing on the wall. I didn't. Shame on me.

Fool me once, fool me twice...
If I'd had sufficient foresight, perhaps I would have anticipated the news that sent AeroVironment (AV) shares rocketing 18% higher yesterday (with an 8% give-back this morning). In short, the company allied with another Japanese motor icon, Nissan (NASDAQ:NSANY), to electrify the District of Columbia's automobile fleet.

A trickle of details on the deal have emerged: The D.C. city government intends to first purchase "some" PosiCharge systems from AV, and then install them at strategically located recharging stations around the city. This should happen by the spring of 2010. A few months later, D.C. will purchase "about 100" electric cars from Nissan and begin its grand experiment. (And word has it that Nissan's first mass-produced electric cars will indeed be ready for sale in 2010.)

"Some" stations? "About 100" cars?
I know, I know. So far, this doesn't sound like big news. Also, we have no idea what revenues are involved for either AV or Nissan. It hardly seems the stuff of which 20% price jumps are made. Yet similar jumps happen at "story stocks" like AV all the time. Remember the 12% bump First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) got when China unveiled a solar subsidy program almost totally lacking in detail back in March?

Plus, this is only the beginning. According to AP, which reported the story yesterday, D.C. aims to "bring hundreds of electric cars and charging stations to the city" over time. And in the bigger picture, D.C. seems to be laying the groundwork for a program that could be replicated in other cities -- magnifying the scale of [whatever revenues we're talking about] many times.

Foolish takeaway
Nearly 100 years ago, Vladimir Lenin told us that: "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country." AeroVironment shareholders can tell you today: "Electrifying a city works out pretty well for capitalists, too."

Like investing in green energy? At Motley Fool Rule Breakers, so do we. Take the service for a test drive on our dime, free for 30 days. If you find it anything short of electric, cancel and get your money back -- no strings attached. Ever.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of AeroVironment and Boeing. AeroVironment is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Nissan Motor is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation.

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