Sustainability

10 numbers prove that General Motors is serious about sustainability

General Motors is moving forward with a global sustainability plan.

Photo by Paula Daniƫlse/Getty Images

The annual General Motors sustainability report is out. It focuses on the successes of 2019 as well as the path forward. GM, the parent company of the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cruise, and Cadillac brands, among others, has been very public with its push toward sustainability in recent years. New numbers released by the company prove that the efforts are paying off.

2.2

General Motors has invested $2.2 billion into its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Built on the site of the original Dodge factory, the plant was producing the Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, and Chevrolet Impala. In May 2020, the plant began retooling to become GM's first planet dedicated exclusively to electric vehicles. In the future, the company plans to make the Cruise Origin, GMC Hummer EV, and Cadillac Escalade EV there. Once retooling is complete, the plant will support 2,200 jobs.

5

For five consecutive years, General Motors has been the only automaker on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for North America. That index is comprised of sustainability leaders, as identified by RobecoSAM, a specialist in sustainability investing, that includes invited members who are then ranked and divided into submarkets and by region. 2019 marked the first time that GM had been named to the DJSI World Index, which is comprised of the leaders from a variety of regions.

DJSI represents the top 20 percent of the largest 600 North American companies inn the S&P Global BMI based on long-term economic, environmental and social criteria.

9

General Motors has been named a U.S. EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year -Sustained Excellence in Energy Management making it nine years that it earned this honor. In its annual announcement of Energy Star Partners of the Year in April, 191 companies garnered awards. According to the EPA, "in 2018 alone, Energy Star and its partners helped Americans avoid nearly $35 billion in energy costs."

20

General Motors has committed $20 billion in capital and engineering resources toward the development of electric and autonomous vehicle programs between 2020 and 2025. A major step in that direction was the debut of the Ultium battery and new flexible vehicle architecture earlier this year, which has already resulted in a partnership with Honda.

46

Part of sustainability is not having vehicles or parts go to junk yards. A way to quell this is to fie tune safety technology, which is inherently designed to prevent crashes. General Motors vehicles that are equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking (or Forward Automatic Braking) with Forward Collision Alert saw a 46 percent reduction in rear-end crashes according to a study conducted in partnership with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The technology was first applied to a vehicle in 2004. In 2016, the company committed to making forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking standard on virtually all new light vehicles by 2022.

50

By 2030, 50 percent of the parts used in General Motors vehicles will be made with sustainable materials. This is the result of a partnership between GM and its suppliers. Ford has also taken strides to make more sustainable parts, including using recycled coffee beans from McDonalds to create car parts.

70

GM's new Ultium battery is made from nickel-manganese-cobalt-aluminum chemistry. This results in a reduction in the use of combalt by 70 percent. Cobalt mining is an extremely dirty process that frequently uses child labor. The chemistry has been developed in partnership with LC Chem, but is proprietary for GM.

100

By 2030, 100 percent of all GM-owned facilities in the U.S. will be powered by renewable energy. This includes the company's Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, which is slated to be run exclusively on solar power by 2022. GM aims to have their global facilities follow suit by 2040.

100

For the third consecutive year, GM has made 3BL Media's 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. The list recognizes outstanding environmental, social and governance transparency and performance among the 1,000 largest U.S. public companies. 3BL Media has represented some of the largest companies on the planet including Morgan Stanley, General Mills, UPS, Pepsico, GM, and CVS Health.

500

GM was included on the S&P 500 ESG Index this year. It was launched in 2019 and recognizes strong performance in environmental, social and governance factors.

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No, it didn't snow in June.

GMC

Testing trucks is always fun. Well, to be honest, testing any vehicle is fun and is absolutely a privilege, but I absolutely love putting trucks through their paces. My most recent tester was the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4, a factory off-road model with style and substance. Let's take a look at what makes it tick.

Off-Road-Ready Truck With a Stout Powertrain

Key upgrades here include a two-inch factory lift kit with Rancho Monotube Shocks, Goodyear Mud-Terrain tires mounted on 20-inch wheels, a two-speed automatic transfer case, and a traction select system with off-road and towing settings.

The net effect of all that gear is impressive. The AT4 rides as smoothly as many crossovers and maneuvers with relative ease for a truck its size. In town, there's little distinction in driving manners between this beefy off-road pickup truck and most family haulers, as long as being taller than nearly everyone else in traffic is ok with you. The truck handles well, and exhibits little instability over bumps at speed, which is a common challenge with pickup trucks and off-road vehicles.

My test truck was equipped with the optional 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel and a ten-speed automatic gearbox. With 277 horsepower and a stout 460 pound-feet of torque, it's the perfect companion for a truck meant to climb over and out of gnarly obstacles on the trails. In daily driving scenarios, the engine is quiet and refined, and shows little of the rattly, noisy diesel sound many people expect from the engines. With plenty of torque on tap, the AT4 feels somewhat lively, and is able to navigate traffic with ease. Reaching highway speeds and passing once there is also a breeze, and the truck remains surprisingly peaceful on the interstate.

Comfy Interior and Useful Bed Features

Inside, my test truck came equipped with leather upholstery and optional heated/cooled front seats. We had a rare heat wave in Maine during my week with the truck, and its powerful air conditioning combined with the cooled seats to create a much-needed oasis for this rare brutal week in northern New England. The front seats are wide and well-padded, but I found myself shuffling around, wanting more in the way of hip and thigh support. There's a tendency to slide to one side of the seat and stay there, which could easily be solved with a bit more bolstering on both the seat back and bottom.


2021 GMC Sierra AT4 The Sierra's cabin is comfortable and well-made.GMC


As all of my vehicle testing adventures do, the week with the AT4 involved plenty of kid transport. The full-size pickup's back seat is wide and flat, which makes it ideal for installing car seats, but I can't imagine that it'd be extremely supportive for an adult over a long-haul trip. The truck's lift means it's hard for kids to climb in, but they had a fun time trying. The novelty may wear thin over time, but it lasted for the week we had the AT4. Once inside, the kids (and anyone else in the back seat) had their own air conditioning vents and plenty of room to stretch out in their booster seats.

Normally, a truck bed would be an afterthought in a review, but GMC has gone to lengths to make its bed a standout. The Carbon Pro composite bed material is tough, as in there's no need to worry about throwing whatever you want into the bed tough. I hauled over 100 30-pound patio paver blocks over the course of a few trips, and never felt the need to add extra protection to the bed after the first trip. I tossed an old rug and some flat cardboard to protect the bed at first, but it proved to be as stout as GMC claims. Adding functionality is the MultiPro tailgate, which offers several options for steps and different cargo hauling situations. It makes an excellent step, and when the center section is folded down, it opens up much more access to the bed when standing on the ground. My tester also had an optional Bluetooth speaker system built right into the step system, which would make for an awesome camping or beach party.

Tech-Heavy Cabin

In terms of tech, the Sierra AT4 is up to speed but nothing to write home about. Its optional 8.0-inch touchscreen runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with an option for wired connections. There's also Bluetooth, SiriusXM Radio, and more. It's a cohesive system that is easy to use and intuitive, made even easier by clever behind-the-steering-wheel-mounted controls that allow volume and track adjustments. My truck also had an optional head-up display, which unsurprisingly is extremely difficult to see with polarized sunglasses. This is a common issue not unique to GMC, and could be solved by switching to non-polarized glasses.


2021 GMC Sierra AT4 The MultiPro tailgate adds ultimate functionality.GMC


Most advanced safety equipment is optional, and when I say most, I mean all. The Sierra AT4, and all Sierras for that matter, is available with automatic emergency braking, a bed-view camera system, forward collision alerts, front pedestrian braking, a front/rear parking assist system, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warnings, and more. While I get the need to differentiate models with various features, the lack of some of these safety items is hard to swallow at nearly $60,000.

Bottom Line

I tend to become infatuated with full-size pickup trucks while I have them in for testing, but that feeling typically fades after a while. The Sierra AT4 was a little different. The diesel engine and comfortable interior make for a supremely daily-drivable pickup truck, and the Carbon Pro bed with multi-function tailgate makes a strong case for the GMC. Ultimately, it's too much truck for me, but it's a solid choice for those that can put it to work.

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The engine bay is decorated with images of the American flag.

Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

A new customized 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 pays tribute to members of the U.S. military. Karl Kustoms, a Chevrolet Performance retailer and custom shop, recently completed the build in partnership with Bad Boy Vettes. Nearly every panel of the Corvette has been modified to honor a military branch. Even the underside of the hood and engine bay have been artistically sprayed.

"It is a privilege to take on a custom project like this and use our skills to honor our nation's military," Clint Quesinberry, Digital Marketing Specialist. "This Memorial Day, we are proud to recognize those who served."

Karl Kustons US military 2016 Chevrolet Corvette The model started its life as a 2016 Chevy Corvette.Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

Unique features include detailed lettering of the words "Honor, Duty, Country", three words given an important place in military history after they were uttered by General Douglas MacArthur in 1962 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as part of his farewell address. There's also imagery of a U.S. Army helicopter firing at a Russian helicopter, a serviceman with a German Shepard, the U.S.S. Iowa battleship, and Arlington Cemetery stones with Medal of Honor recipients from each major conflict.

Karl Kustons US military 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Military imagery features throughout the body work.Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

The car was created as a full-time show car and is currently on display at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It will remain there through the end of 2021 before traveling throughout the country at a variety of car events throughout 2022.

The customized Corvette is also a contender for the 2021 International Show Car Association (ISCA) Car of the Year.

Karl Kustons US military 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Imagery is featured on the body and under the hood.Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

"We did what we could to take this thing over the top," said Ed Birmingham, Karl Kustoms Painter. "I sat there for hours doing the detail work. I spent more time than I would normally spend on a hood, but it all paid off."

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