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GE to buy 25,000 electric cars

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- GE said on Thursday that it will buy 25,000 electric vehicles for its fleet through 2015 in the "largest-ever" purchase of electric cars.

GE (GE, Fortune 500) will begin with a purchase of 12,000 Chevy Volts from General Motors Co. The purchases will begin in 2011, said GE.

GE has a current fleet of 30,000 vehicles which are used by GE employees to conduct their business. The conglomerate said it "will add other [electric] vehicles as manufacturers bring them to market."

GE says that because of its size and technology the company is uniquely positioned to bring the electric vehicles into the mainstream.

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said the purchase will help to "move electric vehicles from anticipation to action."

"Wide-scale adoption of electric vehicles will also drive clean energy innovation, strengthen energy security and deliver economic value," he said.

GM Chief Executive Daniel Akerson described the deal with GE as "a marriage made in heaven" for both corporations."

"We're interested in [GE's] watt station, their charging stations," said Akerson. "It dovetails well with this electric vehicle [the Volt] and electric vehicle development across the automobile industry."

GE said that 15,000 of the 25,000 electric vehicles that it plans to purchase will be used to replace half of its fleet. The other 10,000 electric vehicles will be used in its Fleet Services division. That division provides business-to-business fleet financing and management for customers.

The Chevrolet Volt is expected to roll off production lines later this month.

"GE's decision to dive headfirst into the electric-drive vehicle market isn't selfless - the company stands to profit from the success of such cars," said John O'Dell, senior editor for Edmunds' GreenCarAdvisor.com.

O'Dell said that GE manufactures EV chargers, has partnered with Better Place, which owns battery exchange stations, and is a shareholder in A123 Systems (AONE), a battery maker. To top of page

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