The 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

The 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

FAIRFIELD, CT - GE plans to buy 2,000 new Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids for its fleet as part of its goal to convert more than half its global fleet to alternative-fuel vehicles. As part of this collaboration, Ford and GE said they will jointly market GE’s alternative-fuel infrastructure solutions to commercial customers. Ford said it will also provide new alternative-fuel vehicles for use at GE’s Innovation Center, which opened earlier this year.

GE said the purchase of these 2,000 vehicles is part of its commitment to its ecomagination effort. With this purchase, GE said its alternative-fuel fleet will grow to more than 5,000, and that the company is on its way toward its goal of eventually operating 25,000 alternative-fuel vehicles.

According to GE, the company plans to purchase the vehicles this year and in 2013.

"We’re excited about the vehicles, and we want to get them to our employee drivers and on the road as soon as we can," said a GE company spokesperson. "The majority of our deployment will be completed over the next three months."

GE added that, to date, its employees have driven 18 million miles in the company’s alternative-fuel vehicles, which has saved about $2 million in gasoline costs and has reduced CO2 emissions by roughly 12 million lbs.

In terms of jointly promoting alt-fuel infrastructure, Ford will promote GE’s WattStation charging system and its CNG in a Box natural gas fueling station to its commercial customers. The WattStation uses “smart grid” technology, according to GE, and comes with an app that helps customers locate charging stations for vehicles. CNG in a Box is a CNG fueling system that GE describes as “plug and play,” and is designed to simplify the installation of CNG fueling infrastructure for fleet and retail fueling stations.

Ford will also provide new alternative-fuel vehicles for use at GE’s Innovation Center at GE Capital Fleet Services’ headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn. Ford is already operating the all-electric version of its Focus compact sedan at the center.

One other joint effort the companies are embarking on includes partnering with researchers at Georgia Tech university to study how GE employees drive and charge their vehicles. The study’s goal is to improve all-electric driving and charging performance, according to Ford and GE. The researchers will use Ford’s MyFord Mobile app, which offers real-time battery charging status and “value charging,” and automatically recharges a vehicle at off-peak electricity rates, which cost less.

GE said it plans to share the study’s results with its commercial customers to help them deploy electric vehicles in their fleets.

Updated 11/20/2012, 10:23 a.m. with information about deployment plans from GE.