General Motors, the largest automaker in the United States, is planning to phase out internal combustion engines and go all-electric by 2035 in an effort to become carbon-neutral within 20 years in its operations.
The auto manufacturer announced on Thursday, Jan. 28 that it projected that the company would be carbon neutral by 2040. To achieve this goal, General Motors is shifting its focus to battery electric vehicles and other zero-emissions technology.
General Motors is developing zero-emissions vehicles across multiple price points, as well as developing strategies to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new “light-duty vehicles,” including gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks, by 2035. According to the company, it will offer 30 new all-electric models worldwide by the middle of the current decade. Forty percent of GM’s U.S. models will be battery electric by the end of 2025.
“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.”
The push toward electric and autonomous vehicles in the next five years represents a $27 billion investment for General Motors. Previously, GM had projected $20 billion for the effort prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. General Motors is committing more than half of its capital and product development capacity toward electric and electric-autonomous development.
Despite the shift to electric battery-powered vehicles, GM will continue to produce traditional gas-powered vehicles. In a news release, the company vowed to continue increasing fuel efficiency for internal combustion engine vehicles, providing improved fuel economy technologies, aerodynamic efficiency enhancements, downsized boosted engines and more.
Electric vehicles currently account for a pittance of worldwide vehicle sales and market share. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electric vehicles represented 2.6 percent of vehicles sales around the world and 1 percent of the total vehicle stock in 2019. McKinsey and Company put the global electric vehicle market share at 2.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
However, electric vehicles have made strides in the past decade, as only 17,000 electric vehicles were on roads in 2010 compared to 7.2 million by 2019, based on IEA figures.
McKinsey and Company warned in a July 2020 Electric Vehicle Index report that the electric vehicle market’s rapid expansion was slowing down. While electric vehicle sales rose 65 percent from 2017 to 2018, the 2019 growth was only nine percent, accounting for 2.1 million vehicles sold. The management consulting firm attributed this decline to the “decline of the overall light-vehicle market,” which dropped five percent in 2019 and 29 percent in Q1 2020.
General Motors is also addressing carbon emissions for its company operations, pledging to use 100 percent renewable energy for its U.S. sites by 2030 and for its global sites by 2035. GM previously planned to go 100 percent renewable but is shifting up its time table by five years. For the operations that cannot remove carbon emission, GM will be investing in carbon credits and offsets.
“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,” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said. “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.”
Image courtesy of Chevrolet