GE to Buy 25,000 Electric Vehicles by 2015

by | Nov 12, 2010

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GE plans to buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 for its own fleet and through its Capital Fleet Services business, which the company touts as the largest single electric-vehicle commitment to date.

 GE says it will convert at least half of its 30,000 global fleet and will partner with fleet customers to deploy a total of 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015. The company will initially purchase 12,000 GM vehicles, starting with the Chevrolet Volt in 2011.

“Today’s announcement by GE regarding the purchase of 25,000 electric vehicles is significant, as this action will likely serve as the catalyst for other fleets. Additionally, we believe that GE’s action is a critical step in the role that fleets can play in utilizing more than 20 percent of the announced battery manufacturing capacity by 2015, thus helping accelerate the scale-driven cost reductions in advanced batteries,” said Oliver Hazimeh, partner and head of the global e-Mobility practice at PRTM, a global management consulting firm, in an e-mail statement.

As the Chevrolet Volts roll off production lines in November, GE says it is in position to deploy the supporting infrastructure to help its 65,000 global fleet customers convert and manage their fleets. The company also is poised to garner $500 million in near-term business with wide-scale electric-vehicle use.

In addition to owning one of the world’s largest fleets and operating a leading global fleet management business, GE offers a portfolio of product solutions including charging stations, circuit protection equipment and transformers that are needed for electric-vehicle infrastructure development.

As part of its electric-vehicle strategy, GE and Better Place recently announced a partnership to accelerate the global deployment of an electric-vehicle infrastructure, with one goal of converting corporate fleets to electric vehicles. The partnership leverages GE’s technology portfolio, smart grid expertise, and its new WattStation electric vehicle charger with Better Place’s EV services and infrastructure solution.

“Electric vehicle technology is real and ready for deployment and we are embracing the transformation with partners like GM and our fleet customers,” said GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, in a statement. “By electrifying our own fleet, we will accelerate the adoption curve, drive scale, and move electric vehicles from anticipation to action.”

GE also announced two electric-vehicle customer experience and learning centers to provide customers, employees and researchers first-hand access to electric vehicles and developing technologies. These centers will monitor and evaluate vehicle performance and charging behaviors, driver experiences, service requirements, and operational efficiencies, says GE.

One will be located outside of Detroit, in Van Buren Township, Michigan, as part of GE’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center. The other will be located at GE Capital’s Fleet Services business headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with several other centers to be announced in 2011.

GE also released an electric-vehicle readiness toolkit at the Website to help municipalities, customers, and individuals prepare for wide-scale electric vehicle deployment.

“It is vital that fleet owners and operators lead the way in this transformation, as GE is doing today,” said Robbie Diamond, president and CEO of the Electrification Coalition (EC), in a statement. “I thank GE, and look forward to working with them as we continue our efforts to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles in order to combat the economic, environmental, and national security threats posed by oil dependence,” he added.

GE is a member of the Electrification Coalition, which launched in 2009. EC plans to release its “Fleet Electrification Roadmap” report on November 15, which will provide an analysis on the economics of electric vehicles for fleet operators.

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