General Electric (GE) is very close to bringing out the 'Electric Bus of the Future', which is mooted to be cost-effective solution for electrification of buses, delivery trucks, off-highway vehicles and other heavy-duty vehicles.

Earlier this week, GE announced that the hybrid systems research team at its central technology development arm, GE Global Research, had achieved a significant breakthrough that could help accelerate the process of electricification of bus, truck and heavy vehicle fleets.

Significant advances in battery technologies have been made further reductions in the size and cost of batteries will be needed to enable the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, the company said in a statement on December 2.

The research is being done as part of a $13 million research project GE is engaged in with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium, funded under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program.

 Public transit and delivery service providers recognize the importance and benefits of transitioning to an electric fleet, but are looking for cost-effective solutions to make that possible, said Lembit Salasoo, Senior Electrical Engineer and Principal Investigator on the hybrid bus project at GE Global Research.

With the cost of the battery remaining a principal hurdle, a dual battery system could bring these costs down and help accelerate the electric revolution for bus and delivery truck fleets representing hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

According to GE, there are 843,000 buses registered in the United States. Many of them - including most of the 63,000 transit buses and 480,000 school buses - travel less than 100 miles daily. That is well within the range of current battery technology.

Last month, GE had said that it will buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 for its own fleet and through its Capital Fleet Services business. Any boost in electric vehicle sales would add to GE's bottomline as it expands its clean energy technology including car chargers.

In September, GE and Better Place had also announced a partnership to accelerate the global deployment of EV infrastructure, with one goal of converting corporate fleets to electric vehicles. The partnership leverages GE's technology portfolio, smart grid expertise, and its new WattStation electric vehicle charger with Better Place's EV services and infrastructure solution.

GE is investing $10 billion over the next five years in clean energy across its business lines, including power- transmission software and so-called smart-grid technologies.