It shouldn’t be surprising that a company with the word electric in its name would want to plug into the growth of EVs. Even so, when General Electric announced in 2010 that it would buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015, the sheer size of the bulk buy made headlines, for the size of the commitment and because half that number would be from General Motors, including the Chevrolet Volt. Since then, GE has purchased thousands of the new Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.

Now, apparently, GE’s fleet managers want a wider range of options, especially for their trucks. So, GE is taking a slight detour, and adding in some fuel-efficient compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles into its purchases for its own corporate fleet and the vehicles it leases to others, according to Bloomberg News. GE owns 30,000 vehicles for its own employees, and leases 1.4 million to other businesses through its GE Capital Fleet Services arm.

Even though EV, PHEV and hybrids are a small percentage of the total GE fleet, the decision to add more CNG vehicles is partly a financial one. Simply, electrics and hybrids carry a premium over gas and CNG. The GE decision could be good news to Honda. The Honda Civic CNG won the prestigious Green Car of the Year award at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. It also costs more than $10,000 less than the Volt.

By Evelyn Kanter

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