GE places mega-order for Ford plug-in hybrid

General Electric (GE) has signed a major deal to buy thousands of Ford electric cars, in what will been seen as a major boost to the emerging market for low emission vehicles.

Ford confirmed yesterday that it will deliver 2,000 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids to GE’s corporate fleet, and will also help to promote GE’s electric and natural gas refuelling stations to commercial buyers.

The sale represents the largest order for Ford’s plug-in cars to-date, and comes just a month after the C-Max went on sale in the US, boasting a price tag of $30,000 after a federal tax credit.

Workers at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant, which makes the C-Max, welcomed the news on the company’s Facebook page.

One employee, who said he worked at the Michigan plant, said: “Now I know why so many c- max’s have been coming down the line :) this is good :)”. Another commented that he had been “building [the cars] like crazy”.

Sales of electric vehicle have struggled to take-off in recent years, with consumers expressing concerns about the high costs of the new technology and potential problems with battery range and the lack of charging stations.

However, they are often touted as a good option for businesses and local authorities, which have predictable travel requirements and can benefit from tax rebates designed to promote adoption of electric vehicles.

GE said it has so far saved $2m in petrol costs and has reduced CO2 emissions by about 12 million pounds since introducing alternative fueled vehicles to its fleet.

The company has a goal to switch half of its 25,000 vehicle global fleet to run on alternative fuels over the coming years.

GE will start taking deliveries of the Ford C-Max Energi from this month, providing staff with the ability to drive 21 miles using the battery, before switching to a petrol engine that delivers 100 miles per gallon. According to Ford, the car will potentially save drivers up to $7,000 in fuel costs over five years compared to an average new car.

GE and Ford also said they would work with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to study GE employee driving and charging habits, with the goal of improving all-electric driving and charging performance.

Study findings will be shared with commercial customers to provide insights and help facilitate deployment of electric vehicles in their own fleets.

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