Aaron DiManna
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GM Throws Support Behind Prospective Biden Emissions Standards

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A time-lapse photo of the highway, which may become cleaner if the incoming administration adopts new emissions standards.
Photo: Pxfuel via DMCA

Following the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era vehicle emissions standards back in March — which was at least 15 years ago based on the 2020 timescale — General Motors sided with the President’s new goals as part of the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation. According to GM’s leadership, the decision was based on support for a single national standard rather than two disparate sets of rules.

Now, with a change in administration underway in the White House, the United States’ largest automaker has removed itself from the outgoing administration’s efforts to bar California from setting its own standards in favor of the potentially progressive national program that President-elect Biden is expected to implement.


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Important context

In March 2020, the Trump administration successfully gutted Obama-era regulations, replacing a 5-percent year-over-year efficiency increase requirement with a less ambitious 1.5-percent increase. Shortly thereafter, several automakers decided to adopt California’s mandate, which remained in line with previous goals. The President then sought to bar the state from setting its own standards via litigation.

Considering General Motors’ enthusiasm for a single national standard — a belief supported by major automakers like Fiat Chrysler America and Toyota — the company’s decision to back the President’s motion against California wasn’t terribly surprising. As previously reported by The News Wheel, the spokesperson for the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation, John Bozella, said, “With our industry facing the possibility of multiple, overlapping and inconsistent standards that drive up costs and penalize consumers, we had an obligation to intervene.”

The idea was phrased well by Autoblog’s James Riswick, who stated, “Basically, car companies want one standard — be it strict or loose — in order to avoid effectively developing two different product lines that satisfy increasingly divergent emissions requirements.”

Consistency amid change

With the winds shifting in the direction of environmental protection, General Motors finds itself in a prime position to make the most of its electric ambitions — and to throw its full weight behind a new challenge that it’s more than equipped to meet. According to The Financial TimesClair Bushey, President-elect Biden has said that his administration would “establish ‘ambitious’ new standards.”

That lines up perfectly with the fact that GM is set to debut 30 new all-electric vehicles by 2025, two-thirds of which will be available in the United States. Moreover, General Motors has repeatedly stated that it could be gas-free by 2030 — and possibly as early as 2025.

It’s a safe bet that the incoming Biden administration will attempt to roll back Trump’s rollback, and Riswick even reports that General Motors is encouraging other automakers to follow its example and remove themselves from Trump’s litigation against California.

A word from General Motors’ leadership

In a statement signed by General Motors’ Chairman and CEO Mary Barra — which was addressed to the leaders of more than 10 environmental organizations — the company wrote, “President-elect Biden recently said, ‘I believe that we can own the 21st century car market again by moving to electric vehicles.’ We at General Motors couldn’t agree more. We are inspired by the President-elect’s Build Back Better plan which outlines a clear intention to expand vehicle electrification in the United States, create one million jobs, install 550,000 charging stations and position American auto workers and manufacturers to win the race for electrification.”

Regardless of who occupies the White House, it seems like General Motors has no plans to slow its aggressive push into the EV market. Considering its century-long legacy of capable, innovative, and beloved vehicles across every segment, I’d wager it has a rock-solid chance of cornering — and potentially dominating — the all-electric vehicle market in the years to come.


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Additional Sources: Autoblog, Reuters