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GE Set to Buy 2,000 Ford C-Max Energi Plug-Ins

Largest-ever purchase of battery vehicles.

by on Nov.20, 2012

Ford will officially introduce the new C-Max Energi plug-in at the LA Auto Show.

General Electric plans to purchase 2,000 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids in what is described as the largest-ever plug-in electrified vehicle fleet sale.

The move is part of GE’s commitment to convert half of its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. The maker has also said it will purchase Chevrolet Volt plug-ins as part of that switch the battery power and other cleaner technologies.

“At GE, we are focused on providing our customers and our fleet with more economically and environmentally efficient vehicles,” Mark Vachon, vice president of ecomagination, said. “The Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is a great addition to our expanding fleet of alternative fuel vehicles.”

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Ford claims the C-MAX Energi is America’s most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid with a 108 MPGe city rating from the Environmental Protection Agency and a 620-mile single-tank range. That apparently appealed to GE since the vehicles will be used by the giant conglomerate’s sales and service professionals – many who drive more mileage daily than average commuters.

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Nissan, GE Team Up on Battery Cars

by on Oct.03, 2011

GE thinks it can help charge up demand for Nissan Leaf and other electric vehicles.

General Electric wants a piece of the electric vehicle action and is teaming up with Nissan to figure out how it can help expedite the adoption of electric vehicles.

Signing a new partnership with the Japanese maker, GE officials say they aren’t interested in putting their badge on a battery car but see other huge opportunities.  With corporate ventures in fields as far flung as battery manufacturing, electric motors and even green energy generation, the conglomerate’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt has suggested in recent months GE could wind up making substantial profits if the electric vehicle industry takes off.

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“We want to get into this space in a big way,” said Mark Little, Senior Vice President and Director, GE Global Research, during a joint news conference with Nissan held at the automaker’s suburban Detroit engineering center. “As the U.S. and world move toward electric vehicles, the automotive sector is forming new industry connections that extend well beyond the traditional OEM space.”

There are any number of new players entering the battery car market, including start-ups like Tesla, Fisker and Bright Automotive.  “We don’t want to build cars,” cautioned Little. However, GE can help Nissan make EVs easier to use and more consumer friendly, he said.

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Hertz, GE Partner to Expand EV Use in China

Taking advantage of China’s shift to battery power.

by on Aug.25, 2011

The BYD e6 is one of the battery cars Hertz plans to offer in China.

Plagued by pollution and saddled with an increasingly massive bill for foreign oil, China is putting a major emphasis on switching to battery power – and rent-a-car company Hertz is teaming up with GE to take advantage of this transition.

Hertz Corporation is expanding its Global EV initiative to China, making it the first global rental car company to offer electric vehicles on three continents.

“China has committed to rapidly expand electric vehicle travel and Hertz is committed to supporting the important EV Pilot City program,” said Mark P. Frissora, the rental car company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Working with our existing rental car network in China and partners such as GE, we are dedicated to helping build the necessary EV infrastructure in China and to create a new transportation solution that employs the latest technology and harnesses innovations being launched in China today.”

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Both Hertz and GE Industrial Solutions will leverage each other’s services, products and client bases to go to market together as business partners.  They plat to co-locate electric vehicles and GE’s EV infrastructure across China. The two companies will bundle EV leasing and charging facilities as a solution, which will be offered to multinational companies and government agencies looking – or forced – to go green.

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Azure Dynamics Lands Record Hybrid Truck Order

Purolator looks to alternative power for delivery fleet.

by on Jan.17, 2011

A Transit Connect Electric van under construction at Azure's suburban Detroit facility.

Azure Dynamics has landed a record order for hybrid delivery trucks from global shipping company Purolator, the start-up firm will announce later today.

While miniscule compared to the sales numbers of passenger car hybrids, like the Toyota Prius or Ford Escape Hybrid, the 600-unit order underscores the shift from conventional to alternative power beginning to sweep through the commercial vehicle market.

A senior official with Canadian-based Azure Dynamics estimate that, “on the conservative side,” hybrids could soon account for anywhere from 5% to 10% of the medium-duty truck market, or as much as 30,000 units in a healthy U.S. market.  And demand could grow substantially, forecasts CEO Scott Harrison, if fuel prices keep climbing.

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The Purolator order, which will be delivered over the next three years, represents “a significant turning point” for Azure Dynamics, one of the two major players in the commercial hybrid truck market.  The firm has been steadily narrowing the losses Harrison says are to be expected of a player in such an emerging market, one where start-up costs are substantial.

“We could come pretty close to cash flow breakeven this year,” Harrison said during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Fleet Buyers May Take Lead In Building Battery Car Market

Fleets know what they need; buyers less sure what they want.

by on Nov.23, 2010

Fleet buyers, rather than retail customers, could provide the initial nudge needed to build demand for battery vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect EV.

When General Motors began testing the market to see who might be interested in buying a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle, several years ago, “I stood up,” recalls Kris Trexler, a film editor from Los Angeles.

Having previously leased GM’s short-lived EV1 electric vehicle, a decade earlier, Trexler liked the fact that battery power could be both environmentally friendly and fun to drive.  So he was one of the first “hand-raisers” for the Chevrolet Volt, which he recently learned will earn him the right to take delivery of the seventh car to roll off the assembly line once retail production begins.

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GM is hoping to find thousands of battery car advocates in the months ahead as it ramps up production of the 2011 Volt.  Meanwhile, Nissan says it has received so much interest in its new Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, that it had to cut preliminary orders off several months earlier than expected.

Nonetheless, many industry observers believe such early indicators could be misleading, and that once so-called “early adopters,” like Trexler, get their fill, demand for the new technology could plunge.  At least on the retail side.

“The cost is still too expensive for consumers,” contends Stefan Jacoby, CEO of Volvo Cars.  Instead, he believes, the real boom market “will be primarily among fleets for a considerable time.”

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General Electric To Buy 25,000 Electric Vehicles – Including 12,000 Chevy Volts

Industrial giant confirms plans to switch half its global fleet to battery power.

by on Nov.11, 2010

The Chevrolet Volt will make up the bulk of GE's planned battery car purchase - at least initially.

Confirming CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s promise to convert half its sales and service fleet to battery power, General Electric says it will purchase 12,000 Chevrolet Volts and will acquire a total of 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015.

While a growing number of fleet customers have begun exploring the use of battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids – like Volt – which promise to significantly reduce fuel and maintenance costs, this is by far the single-largest commitment ever made to the new technology.  In fact, GE’s plans will significantly exceed the number of Chevy Volts General Motors had planned to build all next year.

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The move underscores the possibility that it will be fleet buyers, rather than retail customers, who dominate the market for battery propulsion, at least in the near-term, suggest industry experts.

But the GE announcement isn’t intended to be altruistic.  Not only does the company say it expects to save money on energy costs but, by helping spur the development of the nascent battery car market, General Electric believes it will build a business for itself.

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GE Proposing Largest Battery-Car Purchase Ever

Leader in power generation plans to buy “tens of thousands” of EVs, says CEO.

by on Oct.29, 2010

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt aims to kick-start the electric vehicle market with a purchase that could be measures in the "tens of thousands."

General Electric, the industrial giant that provides the equipment generating a third of the world’s electric power now wants to charge up the electric vehicle market.

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s plan to buy “tens of thousands” of battery cars could very well kick-start the nascent market, according to industry observers, and will certainly be the largest order for battery vehicles in history.

The move isn’t entirely altruistic.  As the world’s leading provider of electric generation equipment, and as a major force in the expanding market for wind, solar and other “green” energy technologies, a GE a spokesman said the company is betting that for every dollar spent on electric vehicles it will get a dime in revenues of its own.

Speaking at a conference in London, Immelt said that half of GE’s huge sales force, a total of 45,000 men and women, will be assigned electric vehicles, though the executive declined to put a specific figure on the company’s planned battery car purchase – nor did he say whom GE would turn to for the vehicles.

The Fortune 100 company won’t be the only publicly-traded company investing in battery car technology.  A number of major utilities have plans to build electric vehicle fleets, as do firms ranging from Hollywood Studios to delivery services, many of whom drive relatively short distances in urban service and see battery cars as a way to curb rising fuel costs.  But industry watchers say they know of no company planning anywhere near the apparent size of the GE proposal.

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GE has been steadily expanding its presence, meanwhile, in green technologies, including solar and wind generators, as well as the smart-grid technology seen as critical to adequately handling the demand of a national fleet of battery cars.

GE has also formed a partnership with the battery maker A123 Systems, Inc., which is producing lithium-ion batteries for cars and trucks, as well as sodium-based batteries that can be used in locomotives.  GE is the largest shareholder in the Massachusetts-based A123.

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