General Electrics (GE) disclosed the largest-ever single electric vehicle acquisition commitment, promising to set out 25,000 cars over the next five years, a measure that could at the end of the day help move the company into electric trucks as well.
At first, GE will acquire 12,000
General Motors (GM) vehicles, starting with the Chevrolet Volt in
2011, and will put other vehicles as manufacturers augment their
electric vehicle collections. This month, Chevrolet Volts will
start rolling off production lines and other automakers are
introducing electric vehicles to market. As this happens, GE
believes it will be in at an advantage to help in the deployment of
the supporting infrastructure to aid its 65,000 global fleet
customers change and operate their fleets.
Wide-scale electric vehicle adoption is believed strongly to bring up to $500 million in near-term business for the company, whose collection of product solutions includes circuit protection equipment, charging stations, and transformers utilized in every part of electric vehicle infrastructure development.
"Electric vehicle technology is real and ready for deployment and we are embracing the transformation with partners like GM and our fleet customers," according to GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. "By electrifying our own fleet, we will accelerate the adoption curve, drive scale, and move electric vehicles from anticipation to action."
Cost is one to the obstructions to wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles. GE's resourcefulness will upgrade production scale, and when all is said and done bring prices down, explained, FedEx chairman, president and CEO, and Electrification Coalition member Fred Smith.
Smith said, "With more than 16.3
million vehicles in operation in 2009, the nation's fleet can drive
initial ramp-up scale in the battery industry and OEM supply chains.
By buying these vehicles, GE is helping ramp up production which will
help lower the price of vehicles and their components and make
electric vehicles more visible and acceptable to the public at
large." Smith said.
GE also declared two electric vehicle customer experience and learning centers to offer customers, employees, and researchers first-hand access to electric vehicles and developing technologies. One will be erected outside of Detroit, in Van Buren Township, Mich. It will be a part of GE's Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center. The other will be found at GE Capital's Fleet Services business headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn. In 2011 a number of other centers will be revealed. The centers will keep an eye on and assess vehicle performance and charging behaviors, service needs, driver experiences, and operational effectiveness, while at the same time allowing the opportunity to experience different manufacturers and models.
To begin with, GE will zoom in on
sedans, although the company is looking at alternatives for
medium-duty vehicles as well.
"GE currently has 4,500 minivans and 4,500 light trucks on the road in the U.S, so there is an opportunity to add light and medium electric trucks to the existing fleet," a spokesperson told Truckinginfo.com.
"We also plan to have electric vans and trucks at our customer experience centers in Eden Prairie and Detroit so that our customers can test drive and learn more about these types of vehicles from our fleet services experts and other professionals from GE," the spokesperson added.