ABB's recently announced acquisition of Epyon B.V., a manufacturer of electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment, is the latest example of a mainstream electrical manufacturer investing in the development of electric vehicles. You may or may not believe electric vehicles will ever become a cost-effective solution to reducing the globe's dependence on oil. But with millions of dollars being spent on EV R&D and acquisitions by blue-chip electrical manufacturers like ABB, GE, Leviton, Schneider, Siemens and Eaton, you can't deny that EVs are now very much part of the electrical market.

ABB's purchase of Epyon is its third recent move in the EV market. In 2010, the company made a $10 million equity investment in San Francisco-based ECOtality, and earlier this year entered into an agreement to allow ECOtality to utilize ABB sales distribution channels to sell its Blink charging stations as part of a complete EV solution to ABB's network of North American commercial and utility customers.

Ulrich Spiesshofer, head of ABB's Discrete Automation and Motion division, said the Epyon acquisition gives ABB access to competitive products, key network management software and a robust maintenance service business model.