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.”

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