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GE to buy 25,000 electric cars; foreclosure freeze slows home seizures; Qantas grounds A380s

Thursday, November 11, 2010; 10:02 PM

General Electric announced Thursday that it planned to buy 25,000 electric cars in an effort to give the nascent technology a jump start and help develop a potentially big new market for the company.

The first mass-market electric cars are set to go on sale next month, including the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. GE estimates the sector could bring it up to $500 million in revenue over the next three years. GE builds natural gas-fired generators for utilities, electric motors, advanced electric meters and a home electric-car charging station - all of which could be in higher demand if drivers buy electric cars.

Electric cars are cheaper to fuel and operate than gasoline powered cars, but they are about twice as expensive to buy, mainly because of the high cost of batteries. Carmakers hope to be able to reduce the batteries' cost over time, but to do so they need to sell more electric cars.

That's where GE comes in. GE is hoping that its planned purchase will help drive down costs by increasing production volumes and assuring carmakers that they will have at least one big buyer. GE said Thursday it will buy 12,000 GM vehicles starting next year, beginning with the Volt. It plans to add others as manufacturers expand their electric car offerings.

- Associated Press

HOUSING

Foreclosure freeze slowed home seizures

Lenders repossessed 9 percent fewer homes in October, an indication that the foreclosure freezes put in place by several major banks could be slowing the record pace of home seizures this year, if only temporarily.

Whether the trend continues depends on how quickly the major banks correct their errors and resume foreclosing. Daren Blomquist, an analyst with real estate information site RealtyTrac, which released the numbers, said the data represented probably little more than a temporary slowdown.

Banks seized an estimated 93,236 homes nationwide last month, a notable drop from a record 102,134 homes seized in September but still 21 percent higher than the 77,077 in October last year.

- Los Angeles Times

Also in Business

l Wal-Mart offers free shipping: Wal-Mart Stores is going for the jugular in the holiday retailing war, announcing Thursday that it will offer free shipping on about 60,000 online items - with no minimum purchase requirement.

The nation's biggest retailer, long known for its low prices, is raising the stakes just over two weeks before Black Friday, viewed as the official kickoff of holiday shopping.

The offer, which includes most electronics, jewelry and toys, will run through Dec. 20. Rival retailers Target and J.C. Penney also have free shipping offers.

l Oil fire blamed in A380 incident: An engine explosion on an Airbus A380 operated by Qantas Airways was probably caused by an oil fire in one of the plane's four Rolls-Royce Group Trent 900 turbines, the European Aviation Safety Agency says.

The fire may have caused the disintegration of the engine's intermediate pressure turbine disc, according to an emergency airworthiness directive published late Wednesday by EASA instructing operators to check for "abnormal oil leakage" in all Trent 900s.

Qantas has grounded its six A380s following the engine explosion shortly after takeoff from Singapore on Nov. 4, which forced an emergency landing and damaged the plane's wing. Singapore Airlines will take three of its 11 superjumbos out of service to change the turbines after finding "slight" oil staining, and Germany's Deutsche Lufthansa, the only other Trent 900 user, is replacing power plants on one jet.

- From news services

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