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GE to buy 2,000 Ford plug-in hybrid vehicles

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August
The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August

(Reuters) - General Electric Co will buy 2,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles made by Ford Motor Co for its corporate fleet, the companies said on Tuesday.

As part of the deal for the Ford C-Max Energi vehicles, the automaker said it would jointly market GE's alternative fuel infrastructure technology, including charging stations and natural gas fueling stations, to its commercial buyers.

The agreement is Ford's largest plug-in electrified vehicle fleet sale to date.

GE, the largest U.S. conglomerate, has set a target to convert half of its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. The purchase from Ford brings the number of such vehicles in GE's fleet to more than 5,000, compared with its goal of 25,000.

In May, GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt said people might be disappointed in the adoption rate of electric vehicles, but his company would continue investing in battery technology to reflect its confidence in them.

Electric vehicles carry an expensive battery and typically cost more than a conventional vehicle of similar size. Sales of such vehicles thus far have been modest and below some initial expectations.

GE and Ford also said they would work with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to study GE employee driving and charging habits, with the goal of improving all-electric driving and charging performance.

Study findings will be shared with commercial customers to provide insights and help facilitate deployment of electric vehicles in their own fleets.

The C-Max Energi, which sells for nearly $30,000 after a federal tax credit, went on sale last month. It can drive about 21 miles in all-electric mode before a gas engine kicks in and gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon as rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

(Reporting By Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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