General Motors’ past efforts to battle tougher fuel economy rules seem to be coming back to haunt the veteran automaker’s electric vehicle initiatives. Despite the pro-EV narrative presented by the company and executives such as CEO Mary Barra, skeptics of the automaker’s EV focus remain.
GM recently joined forces with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to push for more stringent emissions rules for passenger cars. GM and the EDF are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish standards that ensure that at least 50% of new vehicles sold by the end of the decade are zero emissions. GM noted that these initiatives line up with its own EV plans.
Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity, is unconvinced. As noted in a Bloomberg News report, GM has a history of committing then walking back on environmental initiatives. The automaker, for example, backed California’s right to set its own clean-air regulations, but it also supported former President Donald Trump’s efforts to battle the state’s clean-air rules.
“They have reneged in really big ways. I think they want to be seen as making clean cars, but they don’t really do it,” Becker said. “Because of GM’s track record, I am really skeptical.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists is in the same boat. Dan Anair, director of the Clean Transportation Program at UCS, noted that it remains to be seen if GM’s promises today and the company’s commitment to sustainable transportation are not just empty words.
“GM, like many other automakers, has been an opponent of strong standards in the past, so we’ll be watching closely to see the substance of their promises. EPA needs to quickly move ahead with the next round of standards so we can cut emissions in the years to come. Strong standards are the one thing that will ensure GM and all automakers make the emission reductions that are needed,” Anair said.
General Motors, for its part, has maintained that its commitment to electric cars is genuine. This was highlighted by the automaker’s chief sustainability officer, Kristen Siemen. Some of these efforts are starting to become evident, especially with GM releasing electric cars even in affordable price brackets. These include vehicles like the Chevrolet Equinox EV, which starts at about $30,000.
“Going forward, if you look at our EV portfolio, it covers every price point and every segment,” Siemen said.
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