A driving opportunity

GE Capital Fleet Services Ride 'n' Drive event draws a crowd

July 19, 2012
by Emily Atkins

More than 200 fleet managers and buyers were treated to an afternoon of cars, food and information at the annual GE Capital Fleet Services Ride ’N’ Drive event in Mississauga, Ontario on July 10.

Attendees learned about ways technology is helping to advance fleet performance. Experts from GE shared their knowledge on electric vehicles (EV) and compressed natural gas (CNG), two ways to help build a more efficient and environmentally friendly fleet.

Chris Gittens, commercial leader for GE Capital Fleet Services Canada, presented the results of the company’s electric vehicle survey. He noted that pragmatism is sinking in this year. While EVs have tremendous appeal and people want to drive them, the percentage of fleet buyers and managers who said they are considering EVs for their fleet dropped from 78 in 2011 to 70 in 2012. Gittens said this is a reflection of the fuel economy improvements in gasoline engines, and recognition that the charging infrastructure is just not where it needs to be yet.

Agostino Renna, GE Canada’s VP of growth and market strategy, explained the plentiful availability of natural gas—Canada has 150 years of reserves—and the difference between compressed (CNG) for shorthaul and liquid (LNG) for long haul vehicles. In 2011 Canada has 12,450 natural gas vehicles (NGVs) on the road, and there are now more than 100 models available. As with the EV situation, Agostino explained that it’s largely the lack of refueling infrastructure that’s holding back NGV adoption.

Guests at the event also had a chance to test drive a selection of 150 vehicles—including luxury cars, nine EVs and two powered by CNG—on a one-kilometre circuit. Judging by the line-ups for some of the cars, it was a great success.

“Our 15th annual Ride ‘N’ Drive was our best yet. We had great attendance, a wonderful line-up of vehicles and fantastic support from our partners,” said Tim Nixon, senior VP and managing director for GE Capital Fleet Services. “Fleet is a key business for GE Capital, and events like Ride ‘N’ Drive give us a great platform to connect with our customers and partners.”