UK: General Electric promises huge EV order

By just-auto.com editorial team | 1 November 2010

Is Nissans Leaf EV on GEs fleet short list?

Is Nissan's Leaf EV on GE's fleet short list?

General Electric will order "tens of thousands" of electric vehicles within about a week, CEO Jeffrey Immelt said during a speech in London. He did not give any further details of what will be the largest EV order in history.

“This is a huge step up,” Brett Smith, a vehicle technology analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told Bloomberg News. “It’s the biggest order to date I’m aware of, by a lot.”

GE spokesman Gary Sheffer said expanding the world’s fleet of electric vehicles would bolster GE as it expands clean energy technology such as car chargers, solar panels and wind turbines. The company's equipment generates about a third of the globe's electricity.

Immelt said half of GE’s sales force of about 45,000 would drive electric vehicles. Financial terms and other details about the order aren’t yet being disclosed, GE said.

GE products include lithium-ion batteries for cars and trucks via a venture with A123 Systems.

“GE has been one of the biggest players in this game and certainly has a lot to gain from the electric vehicle,” Smith said. “They’ve really truly tried to push this hard to get things going, and it seems to be a core corporate value.”

An order the size of GE’s probably would come from several vehicle makers, he added.

Automakers preparing to sell vehicles powered solely by batteries in the next 18 months include Nissan Motor, which starts delivering Leaf hatchbacks late this year; Ford, readying electric versions of its Transit Connect delivery van and Focus compact car; and Toyota, which will sell a rechargeable RAV4 sport-utility vehicle.

General Motors Co begins delivering plug-in Volt hybrids this year, and Honda Motor, Chrysler, BMW and other large brands are preparing battery vehicles due by 2012.

GE is the largest shareholder in A123, which has signed agreements with Navistar International and Fisker Automotive to supply advanced batteries for their vehicles.

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