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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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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