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Why is General Electric Backing Down from its Plug-in Pledge?

In 2010, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt pledged that his company would purchase 25,000 plug-in vehicles by 2015. The announcement was seen as a major coup for electric vehicle adoption in the United States. Not only was it a record order for electric vehicles, but given GE’s status as one of the world’s largest private fleet operators, its commitment to switch half of its 45,000-member sales staff to plug-in vehicles stood as a major vote of confidence in the technology.

This week though, GE pulled back somewhat from that promise. While it still plans to purchase 25,000 alternative-fuel vehicles by 2015, at least some of those vehicles will now be natural gas- or propane-powered trucks. As in its 2010 announcement, GE didn’t provide much in the way of further detail., simply telling AutoNews:

“It’s the demand of our customers,” said Deb Frodl, GE’s corporate fleet officer. “There are so many technologies out there and our customers need a variety of technologies in their fleet today, not just one. We’re not picking winners and losers.”


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