To cover an initial three-year period, the contract will put GE personnel in the United States of America, Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands behind the wheel of cars built by Ford and its subsidiary manufacturers in the Ford Motor Company's Premier Automotive Group (PAG).
Though neither Ford nor GE is prepared to release details of the deal, worth £240 million at showroom prices, it represents the supply of 1,200 cars for each of the three years in Britain. 'That total will include 850 Fords, made up of Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo models, and around 300 cars from Volvo. The rest will be supplied from Jaguar and Land Rover,' said a Ford official.
At Jaguar's headquarters in Coventry, an insider said: 'This is a landmark development. As far as we know, there's never been a deal quite like it. Group officials have been working hard for some time to develop our global fleet activities. Pulling off this deal reflects the remarkably wide spread of products in the Ford family.
'Everything from Fiestas to £45,000 Jaguar Sovereigns are involved in the package and the growing 'family' of prestige brands under the Ford umbrella is believed to have played a key role in clinching the £240 million fleet contract with GE. Ford Motor Company's Premier Automotive Group includes Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lincoln, Land Rover and Volvo.
The ability to mix prestige models with volume products wearing the blue oval badge is starting to pay handsome dividends for Global Fleet Solutions, the Detroit-based offshoot set up by Ford to specialise in worldwide supply agreements.
Ford's first global fleet purchasing contract was agreed four years ago with the Philip Morris Group and since then, more than 50 more companies have signed up. The list of familiar names involved includes Merck, Texaco and Autoglass, and agreements reached this year are believed to cover several thousand vehicles.