3 Comments

Summary:

GE plans to buy 25,000 electric vehicles, which would be the largest single purchase of electric vehicles to date. The move is an example of how corporations often times play a crucial role in being the early adopters of new green technology long before consumers.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Conglomerate GE says it plans to buy 25,000 electric vehicles, which would be the largest single purchase of electric vehicles to date. The move is an example of how corporations often times play a crucial role in being the early adopters of new green technology long before consumers.

Corporate fleets commonly turn over every three to four years, and are purchased in bulk, so are a prime customer, compared to the fickle and single-purchasing consumer. Corporate routes also often times offer a controlled environment, so will be a good starting point for electric vehicles (predictable routes and driving times are a good fit for batteries). For example, EV startups like Bright Automotive and ZAP started off by doing pilots with the post office.

Car companies from Renault-Nissan, to Think to GM are targeting corporate fleets as an important first market. GE says it plans to buy 12,000 GM cars, including the Volt starting in 2011, and wants half of its entire fleet of 30,000 cars to be EVs by 2015. GE will then work with its fleet customers to deploy the remaining 10,000 EVs.

And that’s another reason why corporations will be some of the first to buy EVs. They can afford it. Say GE bought 15,000 Volts at $41,000 a pop, that’s gonna cost a whopping $615 million.

GE’s also got another motive. It sells a whole lot of power grid, EV charging and smart grid products, so it will be able to deploy and test out its technology with its own EV fleet. Here’s GE’s video on it:

For more research on electric cars check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

  1. I think this is simply a VERY strategic albeit expensive, capex/marketing/pr campaign to promote their anticipated charging station infrastructure. They must see that business as so ridiculously imperative to get into.

    Who knows, there could be some electric car threshold that once achieved opens the flood gates to some government handouts in the form of loan guarantees, real-estate rights to build out the infrastructure, etc. This fleet acquisition could simply be a way to “purchase” those advantages and get a head-start as opposed to a slow organic growth in consumer purchases.

    Share
  2. @chris, I dont disagree with you on using the move to promote the charging infrastructure. Also to tweak their smart grid products and learn more about selling services to utilities around where the car plugs in. And because the amount of EVs out in the world right now is so small, they’ll basically be able to monopolize the largest body of data on EV charging.

    On the government angle — it is interesting they chose GM’s Volt, and not, say, Nissan’s LEAF.

    Share
  3. In addition to the great points brought up in the article and previous comments, there is probably one other motive. Who better to “test drive” their charging stations on than themselves? Get all the kinks worked out before the single purchasers are using them.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post