GM Giving Up Gas, Diesel in Bid to Go Carbon Neutral

Jack R. Nerad | Jan 28, 2021

General Motors has officially announced its intention to become a carbon-neutral company by 2040. In the company's statement, America's largest automaker says it "plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality." 

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"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, in a statement. "We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole."

How GM's Commitment Impacts Consumers - Find the best car deals!

GM's new commitment will become most visible to American consumers in the vehicles the company will bring to market in future years. 

The automaker says it will offer 30 all-electric models globally by the middle of this decade. The company also pledged 40% of its U.S. model lineup would be battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) by the end of 2025. For example, new models to roll off assembly lines soon include the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq luxury vehicle, 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV crossover, and 2022 GMC Hummer pickup truck. 

To reach these goals, which in auto industry timelines are imminent, GM will rely heavily on its Ultium Drive component set. Ultium Drive is a system of drive units and electric motors that will propel the next generation of GM EVs. More than half of GM's capital spending and product development is devoted to electric and autonomous vehicle programs. 

In terms of spending, GM says it is investing $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles in the next five years. That number is up from the $20 billion planned before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Detroit-based automaker says it will offer an EV for every customer in every vehicle type, from crossovers and SUVs to trucks and sedans.

At the same time, the company expressed its continued interest in improving the carbon footprint of current internal combustion engine (ICE) technology. It pledged to continue to increase the fuel efficiency of its traditional ICE vehicles in accordance with regional fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations. It will emphasize technologies like automatic engine stop/start, aerodynamic efficiency, downsized engines with turbochargers and electric motor assistance, and more efficient transmissions. 

GM did qualify its plans, claiming that it expects to eliminate gasoline and diesel from its light-duty vehicle fleet by 2035. That leaves open the possibility that heavy-duty vehicles will continue beyond that date with ICE propulsion. 

How Vehicle Manufacturing Will Go Green - Find the best car deals!

While the use of GM's products by its customers accounts for 75% of the carbon emissions the company is pledging to reduce, the automaker will also address emissions from its own operations. That includes a decision to source 100% renewable energy to power its U.S. sites by 2030 and global sites by 2035, a 5-year acceleration of the company's previously announced global goal for the use of renewable energy. 

The commitment also includes additional investment in manufacturing operations related to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). GM will update Factory ZERO in Michigan and Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee to build electric vehicles from globally sourced parts, and it will invest in new operations like Ultium Cells LLC in Ohio.

How GM Will Use Carbon Offsets and Credits - Find the best car deals!

The final piece of the puzzle to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 will be the use of carbon credits and offsets. In its statement on the new initiative, GM said, "offsets must be used sparingly." What remains to be seen is if American consumers will flock to the bevy of EVs due to be introduced this decade.

General Motors is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on January 28, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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