GM wants to sell exclusively electric vehicles by 2035, and is now trying to push the US government toward the same goal. The automaker has United with an advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), to develop recommended principles for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) automobile emissions standards from model year 2027 onwards. The guidelines are meant to accelerate EV adoption in a socially conscious way and, of course, help GM’s bottom line.
The brand wants standards that ensure at least half of new vehicles sold are zero emission by 2030, with a 60 percent reduction in emissions across a line compared to 2021. They must address multiple sources of pollution (such as CO2 , nitrogen oxides, and particulates) and be “performance-based,” GM argues. The company also believes that there should be an optional path to accelerate the launch of innovative emission reduction technology, and that the standards should ensure that the benefits of pollution reduction apply to everyone (such as vulnerable communities). Not surprisingly, GM expects close coordination between the public and private spheres, including complementary investments.
GM and EDF want a quick decision process. They would like the standards to be proposed this fall and completed by the fall of 2023. The standards should last until 2032 at the earliest, the partners said, but they also hoped the EPA would extend them until 2035.
There may not be much opposition to the basic concept. President Biden already wants half of all new vehicles emission-free by 2030, and the EPA reversed Trump-era rollbacks of standards in December. Meanwhile, California, Massachusetts and New York state hope to ban new gasoline-powered car sales by 2035 and often push for stricter standards than the federal government. The resulting EPA principles and standards would theoretically help policymakers achieve these goals sooner by encouraging automakers to quickly electrify their fleets.
It is unclear whether GM and EDF get their way or not. The EPA is not guaranteed to take the principles seriously, and a change of chairs could lead to weaker rules. We would add that GM has changed its stance on emissions reductions depending on who is in charge. The firm backed the Trump administration’s efforts to revoke waivers allowing California to set more stringent requirements, only to change tune after Biden won the 2020 election. Still, we wouldn’t expect GM to back down anytime soon. The company has staked its future on electric vehicles and stands to benefit if the market switches to green vehicles a little sooner.
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