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GM wants to help shape the EPA’s next clean car standard

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General Motors wants to sell electric cars exclusively by 2035, and is now trying to push the US government toward the same goal. The automaker has teamed up with an advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), to develop recommended principles for EPA vehicle emissions standards from 2027 onwards. The guidelines are intended to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in a socially conscious manner — and of course, help the bottom line for General Motors.

The brand wants standards to ensure that at least half of new vehicles sold are zero-emissions by 2030, with a 60 percent reduction in emissions across a group compared to 2021. It needs to address multiple pollution sources (such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter) And to be “performance-based,” the GM argues. The company also believes that there should be a voluntary pathway to speed up the rollout of innovative emissions-reduction technology, and that standards should ensure that the benefits of pollution reduction apply to everyone (such as communities at risk). Not surprisingly, GM is hoping for close coordination between the public and private spheres, including complementary investments.

GM and EDF want to make a quick decision. They want to propose the standards this fall, and complete them by the fall of 2023. The partners said the standards should last until at least 2032, but they also hope the EPA will extend that until 2035.

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There may not be much opposition to the basic concept. President Biden already wants half of all new vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2030, and the Environmental Protection Agency reversed Trump-era standards in December. Meanwhile, California, Massachusetts and New York expect to ban sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035, often pushing for tougher standards from the federal government. The resulting principles and EPA standards will in theory help politicians reach these goals sooner by encouraging manufacturers to electrify their fleets quickly.

Whether or not the GM and EDF are getting their way is not clear. The EPA does not guarantee that the principles are taken seriously, and changing presidents may lead to weaker rules. We’d like to add that GM has changed its stance on emissions cuts depending on who’s in the office. The company has supported the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal waivers that allowed California to set more stringent requirements, only to change its tune after Biden’s 2020 election victory. However, we don’t expect GM to back down anytime soon. The company has bet its future on electric vehicles, and will reap profits if the market shifts to eco-friendly vehicles soon.

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