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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The ID Buzz and ID R. Pikes Peak represent the ying and yang of the electric vehicle performance spectrum.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

For the better part of the last five decades, Volkswagen has been investing in all-electric powertrains. Fuel shortages brought on by the oil crisis in the 1970s had them testing EVs and sleek, futuristic aerodynamic vehicles.

Along the way, evolutions of its product lineup and powertrains have moved the brand and its electric vehicle aspirations forward, culminating in the push to electrify its entire lineup as soon as possible.

Scroll down to take a look back at VW's EV evolution. Descriptions of each vehicle have been provided by Volkswagen.

1972: Volkswagen Elektro-Bus/Elektro-Transporter

1972: Elektro-Bus/Elektro-Transporter

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In the early 1970s, soaring oil prices and fuel shortages prompted Volkswagen to explore alternative powertrains. An 11-person team developed a battery system that would power Volkswagen's first all-electric concept vehicle – the Elecktro Bus – at the Centre for Future Research in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The 1972 Bus – which had a short production run of about 120 vehicles – was powered by heavy, low-capacity lead-acid batteries. Like most modern EVs, the battery pack was located on the vehicle floor in the center of the chassis, necessary given its size and 1,847-lb. weight. Unlike today, however, its range was a mere 25 miles, and top speed was only 43 miles per hour.

1976: Volkswagen Electric Golf Mk1

1976: The Electric Golf Mk1

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

At first glance, the Electric Golf Mk1 concept looked like any other Golf hatchback, but instead of a four-cylinder gas engine, it featured a 27-horsepower electric motor and a four-speed manual gearbox. The car's range was roughly 31 miles. Charging the 16.6-volt lead-acid batteries via a 220-watt connection took about six hours – and the battery pack was so huge it required taking out the Golf's rear seats. Volkswagen engineers would regularly drive the model in normal traffic conditions to collect information that helped improve batteries in future models.

1981: Volkswagen Golf I CitySTROMer

1981: Volkswagen Golf I CitySTROMer

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Based on experience with the first electric Golf, Volkswagen worked with a German utility to further develop the concept. A total of around 25 prototype vehicles, known as the Golf CitySTROMer, were built as part of a small-scale production run. The CitySTROMer is considered one of the first electric vehicles suitable for everyday use, with room for four people. Its range was around 37 miles and it could travel about 62 miles a day with time for recharging.

1985: Volkswagen Golf II CitySTROMer

1985: Volkswagen Golf II CitySTROMer

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Golf II CitySTROMer was the first electric vehicle built by Volkswagen for series production and eventual sale to the public in Germany. While the range of the Golf II CitySTROMer was down slightly to 31 miles from its predecessor, it offered the innovation of gel-electrolyte batteries carrying 11.4 kWh of energy, cutting enough weight to allow a top speed of 62 mph with its 31-hp electric motor. The 70 CitySTROMers built were mainly used for customer service by power utilities.

1988: Volkswagen Jetta CitySTROMer

1988: Volkswagen Jetta CitySTROMer

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Many of the early EV prototypes were designed around the limitations of older battery technology. The Jetta CitySTROMer concept was an early experiment with newer technologies, using sodium-sulfur chemistry instead of traditional lead-acid batteries. The pack weighed half as much as prior batteries, giving the Jetta up to 75 miles of range and a top speed of 65 mph – both extraordinary for their time – but the technology proved unsuitable for mass production.

1993: Volkswagen Golf Mark III CitySTROMer

1993: Volkswagen Golf Mark III CitySTROMer

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

When the Golf Mark III was released, Volkswagen revived the CitySTROMer line once again with the latest available technology. The 16 gel batteries could offer a range of up to 55 miles, but now the vehicle could be recharged to about 80 percent in 1.5 hours on a European power connection. The Mark III CitySTROMer also offered the ability to recuperate energy through braking – a key component of modern EVs. Over three years, 120 of the vehicles were built and sold in Germany.

2011: Volkswagen NILS concept

2011: Volkswagen NILS concept

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With the arrival of lithium-ion batteries, automakers considered wildly creative ways to innovate with the new technology. Debuting at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, the NILS concept was one of the most radical Volkswagen vehicles ever shown – a futuristic take on a commuter car based on "bubble" vehicles from the '50s and single-seat race cars. With a range of about 40 miles from a 5.3-kWh battery pack, the NILS could get to 60 mph in about 11 seconds and took approximately two hours to recharge. It also demonstrated an early version of radar-based braking and cruise control.

2013: Volkswagen e-Golf

2013: Volkswagen e-Golf

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The e-Golf was the first Volkswagen model produced in high volume with a purely electric drive and was the first fully electric Volkswagen to go on sale in the United States. The car offered all the benefits of a best-selling compact car, combined with zero tailpipe emissions, an EPA estimated 83 miles of range at launch and a practically silent driving experience. Using quick charging technology (CCS), its 24.2-kWh lithium-ion battery could be charged to 80 percent of its capacity in about 20 minutes. Later models offered an EPA estimated 125 miles of range thanks to more energy-dense batteries.

2018: Volkswagen ID. R Pikes Peak

2018: Volkswagen ID. R Pikes Peak

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The ID. R Pikes Peak was Volkswagen's first all-electric race car and made history at the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Designed from scratch to maximize aerodynamic advantage, the Motorsports model got its power from two electric motors on each axle, with a total of 671 hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque, variable among all four wheels. The car not only beat the previous electric record, but the overall record as well — by 16 seconds.

2017: Volkswagen ID. CROZZ

2017: Volkswagen ID. CROZZ

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The ID. Crozz... carries the future of transportation technology, from its voice-activated doors and trunk to its planned self-driving technology. Sized similarly to the 2018 Tiguan in a four-door coupe shape, with the interior space of a mid-size SUV, the Crozz combines an 83-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack with a pair of electric motors, one on each axle.

The striking design of the I.D. CROZZ combines clean and powerful styling with dynamic lighting inside and out. When the I.D. Crozz is "awakened" it greets its driver and passengers with a 360-degree light show: first, the glass Volkswagen logos (at the front and in the hatch lid) light up in white.

By activating its daytime running lights, the I.D. CROZZ signals that it is ready to start. When the electric doors are opened, the sensor fields pulsate; as the car drives off, these sensor fields are dimmed. The rear seats offer legroom that's comparable to a luxury car's and fold up when needed for storage.

The interior of the I.D. Corzz uses an "Open Space" design concept to create an airy, flexible cabin with lounge-like amenities, from the Alcantara-covered quilted seating surfaces to the motion-controlled virtual light shade—a feature of the panoramic glass roof that uses LED strips to illuminate the interior.

Drivers can take control of the I.D. CROZZ through the electrically adjustable and retractable multifunction steering wheel, an Active Info Display, an electronic rear-view mirror (e-Mirror), an augmented reality heads-up display and digital door panels. These features, depending on their type, are operated by voice and gesture control, touch displays or capacitive button fields. The middle of the instrument panel features a 10.2-inch touch tablet that handles infotainment, HVAC, and communications functions.

2017: Volkswagen ID. BUZZ

2017: Volkswagen ID. BUZZ

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Built on the Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB), the I.D. Buzz highlights how electric power can be suited to larger vehicles, offering maximum utilization of space on the footprint similar to that of a medium-size passenger car. With the batteries and the drive system that provide an estimated all-wheel-drive range of up to 270 miles housed in the floor, the driver and passengers find lots of space for traveling in comfort – along with up to 162.5 cubic feet of cargo space inside with the rear seats folded.

And while the Buzz carries cues from the past, its technology points to the future – from a retractable steering wheel that senses the driver's intentions to headlights and exterior lighting that can provide communication with pedestrians based on its I.D. Pilot autonomous driving mode. Ambient lighting inside and out provide a visual signature that make the I.D. Buzz unmistakable and timeless.

2019: Volkswagen ID. Buggy

2019: Volkswagen ID. Buggy

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Drawing inspiration from the classic dune buggies of the 60s, the ID. Buggy shows the versatility of the modular electric drive matrix (MEB) and puts the fun in functional. The Buggy's modular design allows for the composite upper body to be detached from the MEB chassis, opening up a world of possibilities for custom vehicle production, as the original Meyers Manx kit did for the first buggies.

2019: Volkswagen ID. SPACE VIZZION

2019: Volkswagen ID. VIZZION

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Volkswagen ID. Space Vizzion electric concept combines the aerodynamic design of a Gran Turismo with the spaciousness and versatility of an SUV. With an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and an incredibly low drag coefficient of 0.24, the vehicle has a range of 590 kilometers on the WLTP cycle and a predicted range of up to 300 miles on the EPA cycle. The seventh member of the ID. concept family, the ID. Space Vizzion previews a potential production car for Europe and North America.

2021: Volkswagen ID.4 EV

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen's first all-electric SUV arrives with an EPA estimated 250 miles of range for the 1st Edition and Pro S, 201 horsepower, DC fast-charging capacity and a host of features and technology that help make it easier than ever to adopt the EV lifestyle.² And from regenerative braking to an advanced lithium-ion battery in a vehicle with room for five passengers, the ID.4 shows how far EV technology has come over the years.

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A prototype of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV undergoes winter weather testing in Michigan.

Photo courtesy of GMC

All vehicles go through extreme weather testing. From the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula and Mojave Desert to the freezing cold of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Scandinavia's upper reaches, vehicles from concept to near-production.

During that testing, research and development team members are finding out if their power- and drivetrain components are properly functioning as they have designed them to, checking on calibration, and also discovering the hardiness of their work.

When it comes to electric vehicles, there are additional tests that play into it. Does the battery deplete too quickly? Is the battery able to handle the cold weather? Are the electric motors getting enough power?

GMC HUMMER EV | The Next Chapter youtu.be

It was this, and more, put to the test by General Motors engineers when they got behind the wheel of the 2022 GMC Hummer in the northern reaches of Michigan. While driving in sub-zero temperatures they tested the all-electric truck on various slippery surfaces, including snow, ice, steep and split-mu grades. Key tests include integrating its powerful all-wheel drive torque distribution with the traction control system, as well as calibrating and testing the electronic stability control system.

The video shows the Hummer EV looping a test track, using four-wheel steering to handle ice, and bumping its way over some mild snow piles. There's also a show of the suspension system absorbing the imperfections in the roadway, allowing the cab of the truck to remain stable.

There are some differences with the prototype truck seen testing here and the renderings of the model that were shown off by GMC at the truck's reveal. Specifically, the front end. Eagle-eyed enthusiasts will note that the headlights and the area between them is not as refined as it was in the original images.

At this point, it is unclear as to why the change has been made and whether or not it's permanent. Likely, it's just fascia that has been deleted for testing and will be replaced when the vehicle heads to production.

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV is slated to go into production this autumn. Find out more about the product rollout plan for the model here.

In the video, GMC also teases the coming of the GMC Hummer EV SUV.

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