General Electric Co. will acquire 2,000 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid vehicles from Ford Motor Co. for its corporate fleet. As part of the agreement for the C-Max Energi vehicles, Ford disclosed it would jointly market GE's alternative fuel infrastructure technology, including natural gas fueling stations charging stations, to its commercial consumers.
The agreement with GE represents Ford's biggest plug-in electrified vehicle fleet sale to date. GE has set a target to convert half of its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. Following the purchase of 2,000 Ford C-Max Energis from Ford, GE’s alternative fuel vehicles now numbers more than 5,000, which is still a long way before GE could reach its target of 25,000 units.
In May 2012, GE chief executive Jeff Immelt said people might be disappointed in the adoption rate of electric vehicles, noting that his company would continue to invest in battery technology to underscore its confidence in them. Electric vehicles typically have an expensive battery and usually cost more than a standard vehicle of similar size.
Sales of electric vehicles have been modest and have fallen below some initial expectations. Ford and GE are cooperating with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to study the driving and charging habits of GE employees, with the goal of improving all-electric driving and charging performance. Study results will be shared with commercial customers to provide insights as well as expedite the deployment of electric vehicles in their own fleets.
Ford commenced selling the C-Max Energi in October with a starting price of almost $30,000 after a federal tax credit. The Ford C-Max Energi can travel around 21 miles in all-electric mode before the power is shifted to a gas engine, allowing it to return an equivalent of 100 miles per gallon as rated by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“Ford is launching six new electrified vehicles – a big bet that fuel prices will continue rising and lead to more demand for advanced fuel-efficient vehicles,” says Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “We are pleased to partner with GE, a company that is charting a similar course, to promote advanced technology and energy savings.” Mark Vachon, vice president of ecomagination at GE, says, “At GE, we are focused on providing our customers and our fleet with more economically and environmentally efficient vehicles. The Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is a great addition to our expanding fleet of alternative fuel vehicles.”