GE announced yesterday that the company will make a substantial investment in fleet electric vehicles, agreeing to purchase 25,000 units between 2011 and 2015. First up on the purchase order will be 12,000 vehicles from General Motors, beginning with the Chevy Volt as soon as it’s delivered to dealers. The Volt’s generous interior space and hatchback design make it ideal for hauling everything from people to tools and test equipment.
GE’s got another horse in this particular race as well, since they recently announced the WattStation Level 2 battery charger. If GE can promote consumer adoption of electric vehicles, it stands to reason that they can sell more WattStation chargers to both private and corporate users. Like most Level 2 chargers, the WattStation can reduce the time required to achieve a full charge by roughly 50%, since it uses 240v instead of household 110v current.
GE will purchase the EVs for their own use, as well as for corporate fleets managed by GE Capital. GE’s Chief Executive, Jeff Immelt, sees this as a sound business strategy as it accelerates the adoption curve of electric vehicles. For the EV manufacturers, GE provides a captive audience of EV users to provide usage and reliability data in a real world environment. I’d call that a win for both sides.
Thanks to my buddy Mark for the news tip!