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General Motors to be carbon neutral by 2040

Brand with a plan: General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra is calling on the industry to make a difference and reduce emissions.

Clock ticking for GM’s internal combustion vehicles as part of carbon-neutral plan

1 Feb 2021

GENERAL Motors has announced and outlined its plans to be carbon neutral by 2040, a move which will see the Detroit giant try to eliminate tailpipe emissions from ‘new light-duty vehicles’ by 2035 and source 100 per cent renewable energy for its US sites by 2030.


According to a statement issued by the brand last week, the primary goal from a future product perspective is offering electric vehicles (EVs) “across a range of price points” with an extra $US7 billion ($A9.15b) to be invested in the development of electric and autonomous vehicles in the next five years.


Most of the now $US27b ($A35.28b) investment will go into the progression and development of the brand’s Ultium battery technology and the upgrading of key manufacturing facilities including Factory Zero in Michigan and Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee to use internationally sourced materials.


GM has made no secrets of its plans to electrify in recent months, claiming it will hit virtually every price point of every major segment in an effort to “offer an EV for every customer”.


Despite the huge push for electrification, the brand has not turned its back completely on internal combustion, promising to continue to increase the fuel efficiency of its traditionally powered vehicles through the development and implementation of better stop/start functions, aerodynamics, downsized and boosted engines, enhanced transmissions, weight reduction and lower resistance tyres.


The clock is ticking however, as indicated by General Motors’ and the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF’s) shared goal of eliminating “tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035”, meaning iconic models like the Corvette and Camaro muscle cars as we know them could soon be consigned to the pages of history.


“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 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.”


With around 75 per cent of the brand’s emissions coming from the use of their products, i.e. driving, GM says it all of its US sites will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by the end of the decade, followed closely (2035) by its international sites.


The remaining emissions will likely be countered by carbon credit or offset investments; however the neutrality plan also extends to its supply chains and its supported infrastructure.


According to GM, it is “critical” that EVs are recharged using electricity generated by renewable sources but more important to have enough infrastructure to support the looming onslaught of green vehicles.


As such it has partnered 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”, all of which will be “powered by 100 per cent renewable energy”.


GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra urged other brands and industry players to follow its lead and “make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole”.


“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” she said.

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