For GE, this move signifies its commitment to making its fleet cleaner and greener.
Given GE is already manufacturing re-charging stations, it's only natural that it transform the corporate fleet into models that will use those stations.
Like many large companies, GE knows electric vehicles are perfect for corporate fleets where the routes are typically in the same area day in, day out and where the staff returns the car every night to a central garage, loading dock, or headquarters where they can be re-charged.
For GM, the purchase of 12,000 Chevy Volts by GE is a the kind of endorsement that makes the value of this deal worth so much more than the dollar amount GE is paying for the cars.
While GE is not saying how much it's paying for each Volt, I don't expect it to be close to the $41,000 retail price of the car. Regardless, it's still a huge commitment that GM will gladly take as it ramps up Volt production in 2011.
As of now, GM expects to build 10,000 Volts next year and 45,000 in 2012.
GM CEO Dan Akerson has made it clear that he considers the Volt a game-changer for his company. And it could be. It all depends no the public acceptance of the car.
As I've said all along, and as I still maintain today, the biggest issue for the Volt is not its performance, but its price relative to the price of gas. If a gallon of gas stays at or around $3.00, demand for the Volt, the Nissan Leaf and other vehicles will be limited. If gas prices surge, so will demand for the Volt.
That's why the Volt order by GE is a big deal. Twelve thousand vehicles is a major commitment that will help the Volt backlog and give Chevy a leg up on competitors entering the EV race.
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