General Electric Purchase of Electric Cars Is Slow Process

By · November 23, 2012

Chevrolet Volt

Two years ago, General Electric said it would add 12,000 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids to its fleet.

General Electric apparently prefers variety when it comes to renewing its vehicle fleet with plug-in hybrids and electric-powered vehicles. Earlier this week, GE has announced it will include 2,000 Ford C-Max Energi plug-ins into a plan to replace roughly half of its 30,000 strong fleet of vehicles with greener, more economically minded alternatives. You might remember, however, that more than two years ago it was the Chevrolet Volt making nearly the same headlines—and guaranteeing Chevy a steady stream of sales—when GE stated it would add 12,000 Volts to its fleet.

So Is the Volt Deal in Jeopardy?

Not exactly, at least not when you consider the Volt deal, and GE’s fleet renewal plan, stretches all the way to 2015. Between the Volt and C-Max Energi, GE now has 14,000 plug-in hybrids on order. While Chevrolet would likely have no qualms against GE buying an allotment of 12,000 Volts in one fell swoop, the replacement plan is seeing Volts added to the company’s fleet at much slower rate. This provides a baseline of sales for Chevrolet, but it still doesn’t push the Volt anywhere close to its original annual sales estimate of 45,000 units in the U.S. for 2012.

Greg McCullough, a GE spokesperson, explained to PluginCars.Com via email some of the current breakdown of the GE’s electric and alternative-fueled vehicles. “We have about 2,000 EVs on the road today and 3,000 EVs on order (including the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids),” stated McCullough. “We also have some CNG pickups on order. By next spring, we expect to have about 5,000 alternative fuel vehicles on the road. We'll continue to integrate EVs into our fleet—along with CNG vehicles—toward our goal of converting half of our fleet to alternative fuel vehicles by 2015.”

GE said its long-term goal is to continually add economically and environmentally efficient vehicles to its corporate and customer fleet. "We plan to deploy a variety of alternative fuel technologies to meet our own fleet needs and the needs of our customers' fleets,” said McCullough. In response to a question centered on the performance of EVs in particular, McCullough said “they were performing well” and GE employees “enjoy” driving them. “We've installed wall-mounted GE WattStation charging stations at the homes of many of our employees to make it easier for them to maximize their electric fueling.”

Comments

· · 1 year ago

Not quite sure why this deal transpired. If the Volt is still not quite profitable as of yet, is a "fleet" deal going to be any more so? Unless of course, since GE pays no income taxes, they can certainly afford to pay full retail.

· Jesse Gurr (not verified) · 1 year ago

Bill,
I believe a fleet deal will help it get more profitable. Think about this:
For simplicity lets assume GM spent $1 billion for development for the car.
If they sell for $40K and if they sell 10K units, thats $250K per vehicle.
If they sell 100K units then thats $25K per vehicle.
At that point they are making $15K per vehicle. So they want to sell more cars to spread the cost and make them profitable faster.

· · 1 year ago

Jesse,

That's not how to properly determine the cost of the vehicle. You really have to look at the variable costs more than the developmental costs which can also be spread out to other cars with EREV technology.

Here is a good article about the Volts true cost from someone that knows: http://www.forbes.com/sites/boblutz/2012/09/10/the-real-story-on-gms-vol...

· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

Tom,

What Jesse wrote is precisely what Bob Lutz was referring to in addressing "knee-jerk" volt bashers. Lutz highlighted unit sales over the lifetime of the technology, as the denominator to the Volt's, or any other car's, costs.

Thanks for reposting the link.

Bill, Any company that has a losing year, pays no income taxes. Big, or small, doesn't matter. GE has other problems, as reflected in its languishing share price.

Cog

· Jesse Gurr (not verified) · 1 year ago

The point I was trying to make was that the more cars sold, the better. Doesn't matter if its to fleets or leases or whatever else. Link was a good read by the way. I am not any kind of "Volt basher", I would just rather look at the numbers. I wasn't trying to attack the Volt by any means.

· · 1 year ago

Also, don't forget that when car companies sell to fleets: there are a lot of people who drive those fleets. This is a good way to show lots of people how the Volt works, in an advertising sense.

Also - it helps with the "numbers" game. Car companies need to have numbers to print. Just look at what is already happening - even though sales are respectable for both the Leaf and the Volt - they are getting criticized because they don't outsell the Camry... Numbers affect perception, which affects reality. :)

· · 1 year ago

@Anonymous cog

Not sure what happened to my response so I'll try again.

GE hasn't paid any taxes of substance for years. Apple pays around 2-3%, and they're not exactly poor, what with their overpriced products and slave labor construction.

· · 1 year ago

@Anonymous cog

Not sure what happened to my response so I'll try again.

GE hasn't paid any taxes of substance for years. Apple pays around 2-3%, and they're not exactly poor, what with their overpriced products and slave labor construction.

· · 1 year ago

@ Anonmous Cog

Yeah, except GE says that every year. And their products are so inexpensive to begin with , like $2500 - $5000 DuraStations that from what I can tell are almost the most popular EVSE's due to gov't grants (I wouldn't think someone would actually spend this much money for them, granted they DO WORK).

Apple pays like 3% income tax, and they're not exactly going broke, (I haven't heard anyone complain about how too low cost apple stuff is, I'll never buy any apple product due to Slave Labor manufacturing) and with Suicide Nets around their factories in china, hopefully fewer of their employees will be dying.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland,
If you don't want to support slave labor, you'd better not buy any electronic equipment or for that matter, anything made in China. Foxcon and the other big Chinese CMs manufacture for nearly all US brands, including your beloved GE. Just picking on Apple because CNN jumped on them doesn't mean they are any different from anyone else. It only shows how narrow your view of the world is.

· triple (not verified) · 1 year ago

ex, So don't support apple either? walmart? ok, Im down to not support slave labor. It would be hard to find things not made in china or with slave labor.

Another thing, I don't understand why ppl take the sales numbers of the first or two years of the volt to say it is losing money. The way the auto industry judges success based on their invesment, is with the LIFETIME of the vehicle sales. Unbelievable how ppl keep bringing that up. The Ford Mustang with become profitable with their total sales of the current body. just an example

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