General Motors today issued a press release calling for a National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) Program.

On the surface, it might seem like a surprising self-regulating proposal from the automaker, but it comes with several hugely disappointing caveats when put into perspective.

Earlier this year, Trump’s EPA confirmed their intention to lower fuel consumption standards – allowing automakers to sell more polluting cars. GM lobbied for the change, but they argued that their goal wasn’t to lower the standards. GM continues to say that it just wants a 50 state solution, no matter how horrific it is.

Now in a comment on the adoption of new “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks”, the automaker proposed a new National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) Program.

They say that the program is modeled on the existing ZEV program, but the automaker added a few points:

  • Establish ZEV requirements (by credits) each year, starting at 7 percent in 2021 and increasing 2 percent each year to 15 percent by 2025, then 25 percent by 2030.
  • Use of a crediting system modeled on the current ZEV program: credits per vehicle, based on EV range, as well as averaging, banking and trading.
  • Requirements after 2025 linked to path toward commercially viable EV battery cell availability at a cost of $70/kWh and adequate EV infrastructure development.
  • Establishment of a Zero Emissions Task Force to promote complementary policies.
  • Program terminates when 25 percent target is met, or based on a determination that the battery cost or infrastructure targets are not practicable within the timeframe.
  • Additional consideration for EVs deployed as autonomous vehicles and in rideshare programs.

Mark Reuss, executive vice president and president, Global Product Group and Cadillac said, “General Motors has a vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. This is a bold vision and getting there will take bold actions. We believe in a policy approach that better promotes U.S. innovation and starts a much-needed national discussion on electric vehicle development and deployment in this country. A National Zero Emissions Program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future.”

Several other countries, including major markets in Europe and China, have much more aggressive targets on shorter timespans.

The 25 percent by 2030 goal is even weak from an automaker standpoint as many manufacturers are targeting more than 25% of their sales to be electric years ahead of 2030. Then there’s this.

General Motors anticipates the NZEV program, as recommended, has the potential to place more than 7 million long-range EVs on the road by 2030, yielding a cumulative incremental reduction of 375 million tons of CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2030 over the existing ZEV program.

Electrek’s Take

They have some balls to say that “it’s time for American leadership in zero-emission vehicles.” Tesla delivered more EVs than any other automaker last quarter. Did they forget that Tesla is an American automaker? GM barely updates or promotes its own (very good) EVs.

And if it’s in reference in American government leadership by adopting their proposal, here’s the thing: this proposal is a weak mandate. It’s not leadership, it’s greenwashing.

China’s mandate is 12% ZEV in 2020 or about 4 years ahead of what GM is proposing.

GM is basically suggesting that the U.S. doesn’t even try to catch up with China’s lead in electric vehicle adoption.

And “7 million long range electric vehicles by 2030”? Tesla alone will likely deliver that many without any mandates from the government.

We have all seen what happened when China put its mandate in place; automakers rushed to build EV factories in the country.

I understand that the U.S. auto market might not be as attractive as the Chinese auto market right now, but what do you think will happen?

We can’t let GM, or any automaker for that matter, set this sad goal for the industry.

Now don’t get me wrong. What they are proposing is better than nothing, but if the government wants to save the U.S. auto industry, they would need to implement a much more aggressive mandate that would force them to accelerate their electrification plans at all levels.

Otherwise, they will find themselves in 2030 with an EV production capacity of 25% of their volume while 100% of customers will want electric vehicles.

Are they telling the stock market to expect a GM that is 25% the size of GM today? Because that’s what I’m hearing.

Good luck with that.

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