AT&T to purchase thousands of green vehicles

AT&T plans to purchase more than 15,000 vehicles running on alternative fuels over the next 10 years, with many of them coming from U.S. auto makers.

AT&T will spend $565 million to buy new vehicles and replace its existing fleet, Randall Stephenson, the company's chairman and CEO said Wednesday, during a speech before the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

"AT&T is making the largest-ever commitment by an American company to purchase alternative-fuel vehicles," Stephenson said. "It's obviously going to reduce our reliance on foreign oil ... and I think it's going to give a big boost to America's alternative fuel industry."

Over the next five years, AT&T will buy about 8,000 that run on compressed natural gas from U.S. auto makers, he said. Over the next 10 years, the company will replace all 7,100 of its commercial passenger vehicles with alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric hybrids, he added.

AT&T has about 85,000 vehicles "on the road at any one time," he said. The company has about 100 alternative-fuel vehicles in its fleet today.

Natural gas produces less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional gasoline and is available from U.S. suppliers, Stephenson said.

Stephenson also said AT&T plans to spend more than $17 billion to $18 billion to improve its broadband infrastructure this year, slightly down from last year's spending. AT&T announced Tuesday it hire 3,000 additional workers this year, with many of the jobs in its wireless division.

Stephenson encouraged companies to continue investing in the United States, even as the economic struggles through a recession. Stephenson praised U.S. President Barack Obama for taking "bold action" to combat the recession.

"The time to invest in America's future is not when this thing turns," he said. "The time to invest in America's future, I believe, is right now."

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