CRA Global Trends Explored
By John Huetter
General Motors pledged Thursday to make 40 percent of its models fully battery electric by 2025 and said it wants “to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035.”
Thirty all-electric models will be available worldwide midway through this decade, the OEM said.
“More than half of GM’s capital spending and product development team will be devoted to electric and electric-autonomous vehicle programs,” GM wrote in a news release. “And in the coming years, GM plans to offer an EV for every customer, from crossovers and SUVs to trucks and sedans.”
A spokeswoman confirmed Friday that the goal for 2035 was truly emission-free cars, trucks and SUVs, not partially electrified configurations like hybrids or plug-in hybrids. The plan was to go fully battery-electric, with perhaps some hydrogen fuel cell offerings in the mix. (The only byproduct of fuel cell vehicles is water vapor; GM has called them “zero-emissions.”)
“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,” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
GM said it would continue to improve its internal combustion vehicles until 2035, which means repairers might still encounter more lightweighting and technological changes on that front.
“The company will also continue to increase fuel efficiency of its traditional internal combustion vehicles in accordance with regional fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations,” GM wrote Thursday. “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 tires.”
GM also said it plans to be carbon-neutral by 2040. The term refers to offsetting whatever emissions are still produced with emissions cuts elsewhere or buying carbon credits. The OEM said it would only use renewable energy for its U.S. plants effective 2030 and globally by 2035, five years earlier than it had announced earlier.
“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.”
Repairers interested in hearing more about electrification at General Motors can hear from some of the OEM’s experts by watching “Global perspective on electrification, safety systems, emerging trends and collision repair.” The virtual SCRS OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit course and more than a dozen other Repairer Driven Education virtual classes will be available for replay — or to watch for the first time — until Aug. 31, 2021.
The electrification course features GM collision manager John Eck, Global Aftersales Mechanical Engineering (GAME) director Jennifer Goforth, GM global aftersales diagnostics and electrical engineering director John Willis; Nathaniel Skutt of GM body structure advanced serviceability of design engineering and GM collision program manager Christopher Blackmore. The video was released in November 2020, and so while it obviously predates Thursday’s announcement, the information should still be very “hot off the presses.”
General Motors, Jan. 28, 2021
“Global perspective on electrification, safety systems, emerging trends and collision repair” featuring GM (Available for replay through Aug. 31, 2021)
Society of Collision Repair Specialists, 2020
General Motors CEO Mary Barra is seen near the company’s “Ultium” electric vehicle platform. (Steve Fecht for General Motors)
One configuration of the General Motors Ultium platform is shown. (Steve Fecht/General Motors)