GE is well on its way to meeting its 2015 goal of 25,000 alt-fuel vehicles in its and its customers’ fleets. In addition to electric-powered automobiles, it is investing in compressed natural gas (CNG), propane-autogas, and other alt-fuel platforms.
The Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is the company’s latest alt-fuel vehicle choice. The company will take delivery of 2,000 of the vehicles by the end of first quarter 2013.
According to Deb Frodl, global executive director for GE’s ecomagination program, the C-MAX Energi had an obvious place in the company’s fleet. “The capacity and the cargo capabilities and everything else about it made the Energi the perfect fit for us,” she said.
As with the company’s Chevrolet Volt models, the C-MAX Energi will be used by sales and service representatives. The early word on the Energi from company drivers has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Frodl.
The addition of the Ford model is an indication of GE’s commitment to converting 15,000 vehicles (or half its global fleet) to alt-fuel vehicles; it also is indicative of something that was lacking in 2010 when the company added its first Chevrolet Volts to its fleet — choice.
“GE has always multi-globally sourced its vehicles,” Frodl explained. “It’s not like we’re switching from the Volt. We’ve made an alternative-fuel commitment. The good news is that there are more alt-fuel cars coming to market.”
No Winners or Losers — Just Variety
Frodl added that GE hasn’t committed to only electric-powered vehicles as the means to sustainability.
Its collaboration with Ford illustrates this. The companies are working together to implement the CNG In A Box concept, which is designed to allow fleets and municipalities to implement CNG infrastructure quickly and economically.
Frodl said that the sales and service techs who will be handling the CNG program for GE will likely be driving CNG-powered vehicles.
“We aren’t picking winners and losers here. We just want to test a variety of technologies,” Frodl said. “A lot of this is being driven by our customer base. Many of our customers want a variety of technologies. We want to make sure we’re meeting their needs. We’re listening to our customers.”
Among the ways that GE is listening to its customers is its recently opened Vehicle Innovation Center in Eden Prairie, Minn.
The center has attracted more than 300 fleet managers who have had the opportunity to drive vehicles from the entire alt-fuel menu.
Tomorrow the World
As GE meets its sustainability goals in the U.S., it is increasing the scope of its alt-fuel activities. The company is planning to expand its alt-fuel fleet in Europe and Japan, with Australia to follow at a later date.
In fact, the company is currently conducting a market analysis in Europe.
“We’re probably going to implement some CNG and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the fleet there. There are always nuances in individual countries, so we’ll do a variety of technologies there,” Frodl predicted.
Among these nuances are tighter emissions and public health standards, according to Greg McCullough, communications director for GE Capital Fleet Services. “We’re expanding the portfolio. Drivers want the same options as other consumers and we have a responsibility to test all the great vehicles out there,” he said.
According to Frodl, taking into account its client fleets, the company is already 45 percent of the way to its 2015 goal of 25,000 alt-fuel vehicles.
This goal is tied to the company-wide ecomagination program, which has pledged a 50-percent reduction of company-produced greenhouse gases.
GE’S EV Facts & Figures
- GE has 4,274 EVs on the road today.
- The company expects to achieve $20 million in fuel cost savings during the anticipated lifecycle of the current vehicles.
- GE expects to reduce its CO2 emissions by 105 million lbs.
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