Sustainability

General Motors eliminating most internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035

General Motors is set to eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2035.

Photo by Rainer Fuhrmann/EyeEm

General Motors has laid out its sustainability goals for the next 20 years, including plans to eliminate tailpipe emissions from the new vehicles in its lineup by 2035.

Today's statement also expressed the intent for the company's global productions and operations to be carbon neutral by 2040. This is different than the goal that Nissan has, which includes being carbon neutral not just in production but also vehicle lifecycles by 2050.

GM is also committing to setting "science-based targets" to achieve carbon neutrality and has signed the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5⁰C, a call to action from a global coalition of United Nations agencies, as well as business and industry leaders. Other members of the automotive industry have signed the pledge and committed to varying degrees of change. According to ScienceBasedTargets.org, the pledge's website, GM has not committed to an emissions reduction target bur rather the overall vision of the pledge, as has Ford.

In contrast, Volkswagen AG and Renault have committed to meeting targets it says will keep global warming to under 2.0⁰C. Mahindra has committed to the pledge while Continental, Volvo, and Bosch have not committed to the pledge but have set targets that are said to keep global warming to under 1.5⁰C.

"General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world," said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. "We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole."

In addition to the pledge, GM has worked with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to develop its vision for an all-electric future. This includes the aspiration to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new, light-duty vehicles by 2035. What does that mean? The substance of the that vehicles that classify as equal to or smaller than a full-size pickup truck that come into a new generation in 2035 (or earlier) will not have any tailpipe emissions, meaning that they will not be powered by an internal combustion engine.

From the sound of it, that means that General Motors sees the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado being powered by a battery or hydrogen fuel cell rather than a gasoline or diesel engine two generations (15 years) from now.

To get to that point, GM acknowledges that there will have to be a large investment in charging infrastructure and changing customer minds to allow for mass adoption. With those two caveats, GM is giving itself a bit of an out, despite statements stressing their commitment to the cause.

"With this extraordinary step forward, GM is making it crystal clear that taking action to eliminate pollution from all new light-duty vehicles by 2035 is an essential element of any automaker's business plan," said EDF President Fred Krupp. "EDF and GM have had some important differences in the past, but this is a new day in America — one where serious collaboration to achieve transportation electrification, science-based climate progress and equitably shared economic opportunity can move our nation forward."

GM also plans to leverage offsets or credits to achieve this goal where battery and fuel cell capability has not matured to the point of usability in heavy-duty vehicles such as the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD.

The company plans to offer 30 all-electric vehicles globally by 2025 and 40 percent of the vehicles offered in the U.S. will be battery electric vehicles by the same time. GM recently announced that they are investing an additional $7 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles in the next five years, bringing the total up to $27 billion invested.

GM also plans to source 100 percent renewable energy to power its U.S. sites by 2030, and global sites by 2035. Movement toward this goal is already well underway in Tennessee.

In addition to applying the standards to GM's plants and vehicles, the company's carbon neutral commitment applies to suppliers. They are currently working to reduce the impact of its supply chain by supporting grids and utilities that are used to power electric vehicles. Traditionally, coal-powered plants provide the electricity required to charge BEVs. They are also leveraging power purchase agreements and green tariffs in areas where GM has facilities.

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General Motors and Lockheed Martin will design a prototype of a vehicle that's capable of traversing Mars.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Toyota and Hyundai aren't the only automakers getting into the extra terrestrial mobility game. A new partnership between Lockheed Martin and General Motors will develop the next generation of lunar vehicles to transport astronauts to the surface of the Moon.

NASA's Artemis program has plans to send Americans back to the moon. Like the military did when they asked for an off-road-worthy transport vehicle for combat support use in the early 1940s, NASA is asking the automotive and aeronautics industry to develop a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) to enable astronauts to explore the lunar surface father than ever before. The Apollo rovers only ventured 4.7 miles.

Lockheed Martin brings a 50-year history of working with NASA on a variety of deep-space human and robotic spacecraft, such as NASA's Orion exploration-class spaceship for Artemis, to the table. The company's crafts and systems have been to every planet in the solar system.

Lockheed Martin General Motors Partner to Develop Next-Generation Lunar Rover www.youtube.com

"This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles," said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. "Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity's understanding of our place in the solar system."

General Motors, which first worked with NASA during the Apollo missions and helped develop the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), that was used on Apollo 15-17 missions, is bringing its electric battery and autonomous vehicle technology know-how to the partnership.

"General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon," said Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors. "Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again."

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Mercedes-Benz EQS production has begun at Factory 56.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz factory in Sindelfingen, Germany is the home of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS. Factory 56, a home within the larger manufacturing facility, is where the EQS is produced, in both regular- and long-wheelbase form.

The hub is a carbon-neutral facility that has several measures in place that help it achieve that status. For example, the photovoltaic systems on the roof of the hall cover yearly around 30 percent of the electricity demand. Additionally, the factory's assembly lines have been designed in such a way to allow for maximum flexibility where different models of different drive types can be put together on the same line.

Mercedes EQS production at Factory 56

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The processes and equipment of Factory 56 have been specially adapted for the EQS. This is most apparent at the point in the production process called the "Fullflex Marriage". It is then that the vehicle body is connected to its drive system. It happens over the course of the car's visit to several stations. Because of this order of operations, different powertrain variants can be connected to the respective vehicle bodies on the same line. This, along with enhanced digitization, has allowed the efficiency of the line to be increased.

The MO360 digital ecosystem is the basis for production. In installing the system, Mercedes has committed to focusing on people and providing them the support they need via digitization. Factory 56 has more than 1,500 employees.

The first finished EQS models have begun rolling off the assembly line. Deliveries of the all-electric luxury sedan for U.S. customers will begin in the later part of 2021.

"The future of our global Mercedes-Benz production network begins with EQS production in Factory 56: this future is CO2-neutral, sustainable, fully digitalized, connected and highly flexible," said Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management. "The start of production of the EQS is a highlight in our unprecedented electric vehicle initiative in the production area. In 2022, a total of eight Mercedes-EQ electric vehicles will be produced at seven locations on three continents."

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