General Motors, Detroit Renaissance Center Global HQ

On Thursday, General Motors announced their pledge to become a carbon neutral company across their global operations by the year 2040. To that end, the North American carmaker also plans to sell EV-only models by 2035, ditching the oil-dependent gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles that dominate their lineup. 

The pledge for carbon neutrality over the next two decades fits hand-in-hand with the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5⁰C, a United Nations-backed initiative to “reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals”. General Motors has signed onto the Business Ambition Pledge as of January 2021.

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said, “General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better worldWe encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.” 

An all-electric future for GM 

According to GM’s press release Thursday, the carmaker will offer 30 EV models across their global markets by the middle of this decade and by 2025, 40% of their American models will be battery electric vehicles. That’s a tall order considering the Chevrolet Bolt EV sold just 20,783 units in 2020, accounting for less than 1% of their US sales, but it’s one that GM is committed to achieving. 

Their electrified future has been strategized along with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). In addition to building EVs that are affordable across all price points, they’ll work with stakeholders like EDF to implement charging infrastructure and “promote consumer acceptance”. 

EDF President Fred Krupp said, “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.

“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 investing more in electrification 

The announcement of an all-electric future across their brands globally comes with an increased investment, up from $20 billion in the next five years to $27 billion. 

General Motors’ Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said in a recent CBT News interview, “During this last year, at General Motors we’ve really become recommitted to our vision of a future of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.”

“We committed to spending $27 billion through 2025 on our investment in an EV future. We are rolling out several EVs starting this year… it’s actually a rallying cry for our employees, our dealer network, for everyone as we figure out how to work together to really make this future happen.”

The announcement serves as a public jumping off point for General Motors. From here, an increased investment in their Ultium battery plant, re-tooling factories to build EVs, implementing a robust charging network, and getting consumer buy-in are just a few of the challenges to overcome in the short term. 

Dealers can expect increased encouragement to embrace electrification with their infrastructure. Those who don’t could face a similar fate to Cadillac dealers who opted not to take part in the carmaker’s journey toward becoming fully electric. 

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