General Motors (GM), Detroit, Michigan, USA, has announced plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040, committing to set science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality. The company has worked with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a US-based environmental advocacy group, to develop a shared vision of an all-electric future, and announced it aims to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035.
GM has also signed the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5⁰C, an urgent call to action from a global coalition of UN agencies, business and industry leaders.
“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” stated 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.”
Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund president, added, “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. 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.”
The company explains that its focus will be offering zero-emissions vehicles across a range of price points and working with all stakeholders, including EDF, to build out the necessary charging infrastructure and promote consumer acceptance while maintaining high-quality jobs. To reach its goals, GM plans to decarbonise its portfolio by transitioning to battery electric vehicles or other zero-emissions vehicle technology, sourcing renewable energy and leveraging minimal offsets or credits.
GM will offer thirty all-electric models globally by mid-decade and 40% of the company’s US models will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025. GM is investing $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles in the next five years – up from the $20 billion planned before the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This investment includes the continued development of GM’s Ultium battery technology, updating facilities such as Factory ZERO in Michigan and Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee to build electric vehicles from globally sourced parts and investing in new sites like Ultium Cells LLC in Ohio as well as manufacturing and STEM jobs.
More than half of GM’s capital spending and product development team will be devoted to electric and electric-autonomous vehicle programs. Additionally, GM aims to offer an EV for every customer, from crossovers and SUVs to trucks and sedans.
The company states that it will also continue to increase the fuel efficiency of its traditional internal combustion vehicles in accordance with regional fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations. Some of these initiatives include fuel economy improvement technologies, such as Stop/Start, aerodynamic efficiency enhancements, downsized boosted engines, more efficient transmissions and other vehicle improvements, including mass reduction and lower rolling resistance tyres.
To address emissions from its own operations, GM will reportedly source 100% renewable energy to power its US sites by 2030 and global sites by 2035, representing a five-year acceleration of the company’s previously announced global goal. GM is currently the 10th largest user of renewable energy in the world and, in 2020, the company received a 2020 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
GM’s carbon neutral commitment applies to its global product portfolio and owned operations. It is implementing plans to reduce the impact associated with its supply chain while supporting grids and utilities to power electric vehicles with renewable energy. GM is said to have worked with some of its largest suppliers to create a sustainability council to share best practices, learn from each other and create new standards for the industry. In addition to the council’s work, GM is collaborating with suppliers to set ambitious targets for the supply chain to reduce emissions, increase transparency and source more sustainable materials.
While electric vehicles themselves do not emit tailpipe emissions, GM states that it is critical they be charged with electricity generated from renewable sources like wind and solar. The company has worked with utilities and developers to support investments in renewable energy found in and around communities that have GM facilities via power purchase agreements and green tariffs.
The company is also working with EVgo to triple the size of the nation’s largest public fast-charging network by adding more than 2,700 new fast chargers by the end of 2025, a move set to help accelerate widespread electric vehicle adoption. The new fast chargers will reportedly be powered by 100% renewable energy. GM believes that the energy sector is well on its way to a decarbonised grid and that an all-electric future will be supported by renewable infrastructure and technology.