Southern Company launches largest corporate electric vehicle lease program in nation

WASHINGTON— Southern Company (NYSE: SO) announced today the largest corporate electric vehicle lease program in the United States, whereby 400 electric vehicles will be leased to employees at an affordable price over the next four years. This program will bring the number of electric vehicles in Southern Company’s fleet to almost 600 by the year 2003.

Electric transportation is a clear example of one effective solution to some of the most pressing environmental issues in the country. Electric vehicles offer a quiet and tail pipe emission-free alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. Driving electric vehicles helps improve air quality by greatly reducing the amounts of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, while lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

“We have two goals for this program. We want to help create the mass market for automakers to produce electric vehicles nationally and help clean the air by removing the tail pipe emissions of hundreds of cars from roadways,” said Southern Company chairman, president and CEO A.W. “Bill” Dahlberg.

The Southern Company Employee Electric Vehicle (EV) Lease Program provides employees an opportunity to sublease an electric vehicle from the company. At least 100 vehicles will be leased each year for four years, bringing 400 additional electric vehicles into Southern Company’s fleet. The number of vehicles may increase based on employee demand.

“This revolutionary lease program will help introduce electric vehicles to the public, improve air quality and help foster less dependency on foreign sources of petroleum,” said Dahlberg. “Southern Company is implementing solutions to environmental issues while helping to mainstream EV technology and improve quality of life on a national front.”

"We applaud Southern Company for being a leader with corporate fleets giving their employees access to a cleaner means of transportation and for continuing the partnership in the federal fleet program," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "Each electric vehicle introduced today would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% compared to conventional vehicles."

To kick off the program, Southern Company is loaning two Ford Ranger EVs to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. The zoo will use the Ranger for many things, including transport of personnel and equipment. They will also be used to educate visitors of all ages about the benefits of electric vehicles.

According to National Zoological Park Director Mike Robinson, “We’re delighted to use these electric vehicles on National Zoo grounds to encourage public awareness of new conservation technologies.”

“EV advocates from around the country continue to marvel at the pace and scope of EV initiatives underway in Georgia,” said Kateri Callahan, executive director of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas. “Southern Company’s innovative programs are being studied and replicated in major markets from coast to coast.”

Southern Company currently operates one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the nation with 190 EVs, including 50 Chevy S-10s, 32 Ford Rangers, 73 Toyota RAV 4s and 27 GM EV1s. More than 130 additional electric vehicles are on order for this year.

Employees at Southern Company and its largest subsidiary, Georgia Power, will have a choice of EVs to lease – the electric Ford Ranger truck or GM EV1 sports car. The Ford Ranger will be leased for $150 a month and the GM EV1 will lease for $200 per month, and payments will be automatically deducted from employees’ paychecks.

On March 15, Georgia Congressmen Mac Collins and John Lewis reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would amend the nation’s tax laws to make a $4,000 tax credit available for electric vehicle purchases and leases for any individual, corporation or group. Also, the bill would remove government-use restrictions, making it possible for state and local governments to expand the use of electric transit and fleet vehicles.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is an international energy company with $35 billion in assets through regional utilities and operations around the world. It is the largest producer of electricity in the United States and one of the world’s largest independent power producers. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Through its Southern Energy Inc. subsidiary, Southern Company supplies electricity in 10 countries on four continents. It also provides energy-related marketing, trading and technical services and Southern LINC wireless telecommunications.