To dissuade the owners of electric cars from recharging their vehicles at peak times, and encourage them to do so in the wee, small hours of the morning instead, some electricity companies are introducing off-peak pricing for electric cars. Off-peak pricing is a common way of persuading people to run appliances such as washing machines at times of low demand. It is, though, a rigid arrangement that cannot respond to fluctuations in the requirement for power. Far better, reckon Alex Rogers and his colleagues at Southampton University, in England, for car owners to be represented in their interactions with the local power supplier by agents that can negotiate a deal on their behalf. These agents would bargain with one another, and with the power company, to charge the cars in an area in the most efficient way. The twist is that the agents Dr Rogers proposes to recruit for the task are not people, but computer programs.