Now let me turn to something that you might think is completely out there. I have been talking with the heads of the major auto manufacturers over the past few weeks. And I have been asking them if there is a place for Wal-Mart in the hybrid electric or plug-in electric car market, so our customers do not have to spend so much money filling up their gas tanks. Maybe there isn't room for Wal-Mart in this right now. But something tells me that there may be some role for us in the future, and we are going to continue taking a look at this.
Let me throw another idea out there. What if we looked at whether Wal-Mart could provide eco- friendly energy to our customers? What could we do in the U.S. -- where per capita energy use is among the highest in the world?
Imagine your customers pulling into your parking lot, and seeing wind turbines and solar panels, and being able to charge their cars while they shop. I think that would make them feel good about shopping at your stores. It would also make them feel good if they could save money in the process. What if we fed the power generated by those wind turbines and solar powers back into the electrical grid? Just imagine the impact of our customers being able to buy eco-friendly energy at the unbeatable Wal-Mart price.
It's very early in the talks, but this news is encouraging. I would guess Wal-mart's role would be as a recharging station along the lines of a Project Better Place. Considering the amount of real estate Wal-mart controls and the amount of time people spend in their stores, I think Wal-mart could be a major player in the EV biz without batting an eyelash.
Update: What Lee actually says is different than the text of the speech. In this video, Lee says he "personally called" the "chairman" and "visited" the "largest" automaker. Lee also included Sam's Club and not just Walmart as a possible place to recharge your car.