GE Is In The Electric-Car Business For The Long Haul, Says CEO

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While the popularity of electric cars grows, it's reassuring to know that it isn't only the automakers that are committed to the concept.

General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt has confirmed that the company will continue to back EVs, even if initial sales haven't been as high as many hoped.

Detroit News reports that in a keynote speech at the annual SAE World Congress, Immelt said that for every dollar invested in electric vehicles, "GE has 10 cents of content."

GE, like most companies investing in electric cars, understands that adoption is a long-term process, and for many consumers the vehicles don't yet fit into their lifestyle.

Instead, the challenge is in the near-term. That, says Immelt, is going to be all about cost.

Electric cars are more expensive than their combustion-engined equivalents, usually by around $10,000. Even with state and federal incentives, they're often more expensive to buy than other vehicles.

However, as the price of gas rises, the price of vehicle batteries falls and fuel efficiency targets make regular vehicles more expensive to produce, that gap is likely to close.

Electric companies are confident that even with widespread adoption, they'll be able to handle the extra load on the grid. Electric vehicle recharging increases an individual's electricity use by around 25 percent per year. Even with five million electric cars on the roads, total electricity use would only increase by half a percent.

GE has contributed significantly to electric vehicle sales, and is committed to buying even more. The firm has pledged to buy 25,000 EVs in total, 12,000 of which will be U.S.-made Chevrolet Volts. GE has purchased 1,000 Volts so far--around one in thirteen of all the Volts sold since the car's launch.

GE spokesman Andrew Williams confirms that the company is looking at other electric vehicles too, including those from Ford, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

That commitment should provide a welcome boost to the industry in these first few years--and with several more car manufacturers releasing electric cars in the near future, adoption should really begin to gather pace.


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Comments (7)
  1. Gee, General Electric is into electric cars. Almost as shocking as General Motors being into motor vehicles.

  2. I wish they were in for the long haul 10 years ago.

  3. its funny that GM has unquestionably taken the American Lead in EV tech when they were the ones chiefly responsible for setting us 10 years back in development. i can only hope that they can recognize that and do "double duty" to rectify past mis steps

  4. Why all the negativity? I am glad that GE has committed to purchasing 12000 GM EVs and EREVs (not confined to Volts as the article says). Frankly GM needs all the help it can get.

    GM is a different company than it was in the '90s. They have always had an excellent engineering team, but the EV1 was an excellent response to California's CARB mandate. At that time the same powerful group of shareholders that dominated GM's board were 10 times more heavily invested in oil companies. Their directive was to produce cars that used gas. When Chevron purchased 50% of Ovinskys's battery company they proceeded to shut it down and successfully sued Panasonic for patent violations and forced Toyota to abandon its RAV4 EV.

  5. Continued...
    GM and Chevron successfully sued California and CARB to get the CARB rules overturned. They reclaimed all the leased EV1's and crushed them.
    Then GM hit hard times, and board members could see that bankruptcy was a possibility long before it happened. The oil company oriented shareholders abandoned ship, and GM began working to improve its quality reputation then started on the Volt project. I am concerned that an oil company dominated board may return, but now it seems like the company wants to succeed as an automobile manufacturer, not as a means to consume gas. As I said, it is a different company now.

  6. GE has a very nice Level 2 charger for home use. I purchased one for my MIEV, and it works great.

  7. Oh yeah GE? THEN START BUYING THEM... Enough with BS pledges, start buying them enmass and reporting publically how many you are buying. Stop offshoring jobs and start paying your fair share in taxes while your at it. Oops a little off topic there...

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