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GM Promises to Hit Carbon Neutrality—Products Included—in 20 Years

Jan. 28, 2021
The automaker had previously pledged to produce 30 all-electric vehicles by 2025.

General Motors Co. is doubling down on climate-friendly promises. The Detroit, Michigan-based automaker announced January 28 that it is seeking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. The pledge doesn’t only refer to company operations, but GM products as well. The company has also signed on to Business Ambition for 1.5⁰C, a group of companies making climate pledges.

That fits with GM’s existing pledge to offer 30 fully-electric vehicles worldwide by 2035, as well as its recent marketing push to rebrand GM as the everyman’s electric car brand and redesign the ‘m’ in its “GM” logo to resemble an electric plug. The company has stated it wants the 30 offered vehicles to cover a wide range of price points and models, including crossovers, SUVs, trucks and sedans.

A full 40% of the company’s U.S. products will be all-electric by the end of 2025, GM said, and the company is investing $7 billion more than previously reported on electrification before the COVID-19 pandemic. GM says the increased investments will go towards continuing to develop its Ultium battery technology system in Ohio as well as its Spring Hill, Tennessee and Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan plants. In addition, GM says it will source its power usage from 100% renewable sources by 2030 in the United States and 2035 for locations in the rest of the world.

The company’s stated goals can’t fully account for GM’s carbon footprint. In order to compensate, GM says it “expects to invest in carbon credits or offsets.” The specific nature of those offsets will be assessed “in the coming years” and will be “used sparingly.”

The United Auto Workers, the auto union which represents many GM employees, released a statement broadly in approval of the move—specifically, approval of new union electric vehicle jobs in the United States.

“UAW members have never shied away from working with new technology,” it said, and noted that there was a good amount of time before actual change.

“The important thing is that President Biden agrees with our position that any new jobs replacing combustible engines are union wage and benefit jobs that are created right here in the U.S. And we believe the Detroit 3 will locate these new products right here in the U.S.,” the union said. Battery-electric cars are less complex mechanically and contain fewer moving parts than traditional gas-powered vehicles.

The announcement, made at the Consumer Electronics Show keynote,  is an “extraordinary step forward,” according to Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. In a statement on the EDF website, Krupp said the announcement was a “big deal” because it “sends a powerful signal” to the rest of the transportation industry.

“EDF and GM have had some important differences in the past,” said Krupp, “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.”

Krupp may have been alluding to GM’s recent position in 2020’s EPA-California scuffle over emissions regulation superiority, in which GM, FCA, and Toyota sided with the federal government, which was attempting to roll back vehicle pollution standards. The EDF criticized the Trump Administration’s new, more lax regulations.

About the Author

Ryan Secard | Associate Editor


Focus: Workforce and labor issues; machining and foundry management

Associate Editor Ryan Secard covers topics relevant to the manufacturing workforce, including recruitment, safety, labor organizations, and the skills gap. Ryan has written IndustryWeek's Salary Survey annually since 2021 and has coordinated its Talent Advisory Board since September 2023.

Ryan got started at IndustryWeek in August 2019 as an editorial intern and was hired as a news editor in 2020 before his 2023 promotion to associate editor, talent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Wooster.

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