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New poll: GM’s opposition to clean car standards is hurting sales

When the owners of GM vehicles learn about the automaker’s failure to support strong vehicle pollution standards, its reputation goes down and sales suffer. A negative view of GM’s stance on emissions rules was shared by GM customers regardless of party affiliation. That’s the finding of a new poll of 1,000 Chevy, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC owners.

The poll was conducted by Matt George Associates for the Union of Concerned Scientists. It provides evidence that GM’s decision to join an October 2019 lawsuit to take away states’ authority to adopt stronger tailpipe pollution standards worsens consumers’ opinion of the company.

Pollster Matt George said:

In our poll, 51% of loyal GM customers who began the survey saying they would ‘definitely purchase’ another GM vehicle in the future changed their minds after learning about GM’s corporate behavior, including their opposition to stronger fuel efficiency and pollution standards.

Other key findings from the poll include:

  • GM’s failure to support strong vehicle pollution standards results in the company’s favorability falling from 93% to 44% — a 53-point reputational loss.
  • 82% of Republicans and 93% of Democrats who own GM vehicles think GM should support stronger pollution standards designed to help the environment and improve gas mileage.
  • 60% of GM owners surveyed became less supportive of the company’s decision to join the October 2019 lawsuit once informed that the company’s vehicle fleet ranked third from last among all car manufacturers in average emissions and fuel efficiency.
  • The number of GM owners who said they might consider purchasing from another brand or would definitely choose another manufacturer more than doubled, rising from 30% at the beginning of the poll to 67% after the survey respondents learned more about GM’s corporate behavior.

General Motors early last month unveiled 10 new electric vehicles on a single day. It’s prepared to meet or exceed clean car standards. That makes another finding from the study critically important, especially for consumers thinking about buying a GM-produced EV:

  • 76% of GM owners say that their opinion of the company would improve if GM were to reverse course and oppose the lawsuit against strong state standards.

Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst for the Clean Transportation Program at UCS, said:

GM’s actions are making their own customers consider other brands, and they’re decimating their reputation as a corporate innovator in the process.

Earlier this year, a UCS poll also found that Toyota’s failure to support strong vehicle pollution standards resulted in a nearly one-third decline in the company’s favorability rating among existing Toyota owners.

Electrek’s Take

It’s a no-brainer for GM to remove itself from the lawsuit.

The new survey shows that GM’s opposition to California and other states regarding emissions is undermining the company’s otherwise laudable work on electric cars. It will keep some EV shoppers from choosing an all-electric Chevy, Cadillac, or GMC Hummer EV.

How much more evidence does its leadership need to change direction? Does the company’s involvement in the California lawsuit and its backing of Trump’s efficiency rules make you not want to buy a GM EV?

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.