Electric cars: GE to buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015

Electric cars, 25,000 of them, will be purchased by General Electric over the next five years. GE is hoping to spark public purchases of electric cars, to be powered by charging stations manufactured by the company.

PRNewsFoto/Los Angeles Auto Show
Chevrolet preps the Volt for launch, just one of several electric cars to be displayed at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.

GE said Thursday it will buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 in hopes of sparking demand for the emerging market for which it makes charging stations and other infrastructure.

General Electric Co. will initially purchase 12,000 GM vehicles, beginning with the Chevrolet Volt next year. It plans to add others as manufacturers expand their electric vehicle offerings. Chevrolet Volts will roll off production lines this month and other automakers are working on their own versions.

The company is hoping its planned purchase, the largest so far for electric vehicles, will spur others to follow.

"By electrifying our own fleet, we will accelerate the adoption curve, drive scale, and move electric vehicles from anticipation to action," CEO Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement Thursday. He hinted at the plan last month.

Higher production of electric vehicles should help lower the price — one of the main reasons why they haven't caught on. Hybrid gas-electric cars such as the Toyota Prius have become more common on the nation's roads, but electric vehicles have been held back by the high cost and limited battery range.

GE, which makes an electric vehicle charger called the WattStation, estimates the expanding market could bring it up to $500 million in revenue over the next three years.

General Electric is based in Fairfield, Conn. General Motors Co. is based in Detroit.

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