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GE and GM Team-Up: GE Going Electric

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On: Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 4:29PM | By: Chris Weiss

GE and GM Team-Up: GE Going Electric

If President Obama's plan to put a million electric and hybrids on the road by 2015 succeeds, at least 25,000 of those will belong to General Electric, as announced by the company this week. GE plans to add 25,000 plug-ins to its company-wide auto fleet by 2015 in what BusinessWeek calls the "biggest such order ever", beginning with 12,000 Chevy Volts. The cars will be used in part for GM's traveling salespersons.

GE is essentially putting its money where its mouth is. In July, the company unveiled its WattStation electric charging station, part of a greater plan to invest $10 billion into clean energy technologies over the next five years. The company is also working on smart grid technology and car batteries.

GE's plan to boost its electric vehicle fleet will begin next year with Chevy Volts. The company indicated that it will announce additional partners as automakers add to their plug-in offerings.

No surprise that a company whose fate is tied to electric technologies would commit to electric vehicles.

CEO Jeffrey Immelt explained the greater significance of EVs: "Wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles will also drive clean-energy innovation, strengthen energy security and deliver economic value. By electrifying our own fleet, we will accelerate the adoption curve, drive scale and move electric vehicles from anticipation to action. We make technology that touches every point of the electric vehicle infrastructure and are leading the transformation to a smarter electrical grid."

GM, which is in the process of preparing for its Initial Public Offering (IPO), was more than happy to hear about the major order. CEO Dan Ackerman called the move "a vote of confidence in the Chevrolet Volt, which we will begin delivering to retail customers by the end of this year."

I'm surprised that GE didn't commit to any Nissan Leafs, seeing as how that is a pure electric car rather than a plug-in hybrid with all-electric capabilities. Perhaps that will be one of its future announcements, though NY Times Wheels alludes to the fact that the 100-mile range of the car may be too limited for GE's needs.

In addition to purchasing EVs and investing heavily into clean energy R&D, GE will open two EV "customer experience and learning centers," one in Michigan and one in Minnesota.

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