US firm General Motors to ditch gas, diesel-powered cars by 2035

The largest automaker in the United States outlined its plans to become carbon neutral by 2040, marking a seismic shift in the industry.

GM building
GM's chief executive, Mary Barra, said the company had worked with the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund to 'develop a shared vision of an all-electric future' for its vehicles [File: Mike Stone/Reuters]

General Motors Co said Thursday that it was setting a goal to sell all its new cars, SUVs and light pick-up trucks with zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, a dramatic shift by the largest United States automaker away from gasoline and diesel engines.

GM, which also said it plans to become carbon neutral by 2040, made its announcement just over a week after US President Joe Biden took office pledging to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and dramatically boost the sales of electric vehicles (EVs).

GM sold 2.55 million vehicles in the US last year, only about 20,000 of which were EVs. It said in November that it was investing $27bn in electric and autonomous vehicles over the next five years, up from $20bn planned before the coronavirus pandemic.

GM, which was up as much as 7.4 percent on Thursday, was trading up 3 percent at midday eastern time.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has aggressively pushed the automaker internally to embrace electric vehicles and shift away from gasoline-powered ones.

She said in a statement the automaker had worked with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an environmental advocacy group, to “develop a shared vision of an all-electric future and an aspiration to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035”.

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035. Several states including Massachusetts say they plan to follow suit.

“We’re taking actions so that we can eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2035,” said Dane Parker, GM’s chief sustainability officer, in a briefing with reporters. “Setting a goal for us 15 years from now is absolutely reachable.”

EDF President Fred Krupp said in a statement: “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.”

GM also said it will source 100 percent renewable energy to power its US sites by 2030 and global sites by 2035, five years ahead of a prior goal.

More than half of GM’s capital spending and product development team will be devoted to electric and electric-autonomous vehicle programmes, GM said.

Biden on Monday vowed to replace the US government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus toward clean energy.

Source: Reuters