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article imageGM's zero-emissions plan could reduce the number of EVs sold

By Karen Graham     Nov 1, 2018 in Business
Last Friday, GM asked the government for one national gas mileage standard, including a requirement that a percentage of auto companies' sales be zero-emissions vehicles. It sounded like a great idea - but there may be a flaw in the proposal.
According to GM, the plan would set lower zero-emissions vehicle requirements than California already has but spread them to the entire nation. The requirements would gradually increase until 2025. GM claims the country could add over 7 million more electric vehicles to our highways by 2030. GM says a nationwide program would “preserve U.S. industrial leadership for years to come.”
California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Program uses a formula that is based on the total number of vehicles sold by an automaker and gives credits for fully electric vehicle sales and partial credits for plug-in gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
Just as General Motors was announcing its buyout plan for 18,000 salaried employees on Wednesday, the highly respected Union of Concerned Scientists spoke out, questioning GM's zero-emissions proposal, arguing the plan “may sound like an innovative idea,” but it undermines the country’s progress to higher vehicle efficiency and reduced emissions.
EU ministers agreed to a 35 percent CO2 reduction in emissions for new cars by 2030 compared to mode...
EU ministers agreed to a 35 percent CO2 reduction in emissions for new cars by 2030 compared to models made for 2021
Ina Fassbender, dpa/AFP/File
In an interview with InsideEVs, David Reichmuth, a senior clean-vehicles engineer at UCS said, “GM’s ZEV proposal is hiding a call for a rollback of fuel economy standards. General Motors is a leader in EVs, and yet they are also calling for reduced efficiency standards for conventional vehicles. They can do good things and bad things at the same time.”
Reichmuth, writing in a blog for the UCS on Wednesday says here is what will really happen with GM's proposal: "The GM proposal calls for a 50-state ZEV sales requirement of “15% credits” by 2025, but that doesn’t mean a 15% sales requirement. In fact, it would be far short of that, at best requiring less than 5 percent ZEV sales in the US by 2025, and potentially much less, while potentially undercutting both state-level electric vehicle requirements and federal greenhouse gas emission standards."
As Green Car Reports points out, GM's plan calls for less than 5 percent of cars to be EVs by 2025, while California has set the number at 6 percent. The unanswered question may be why? It has been suggested that with GM showing a nice increase in sales of trucks and SUVs in its 3rd quarter, that this might be playing into the proposal.
But Forbes suggests it is entirely an American phenomenon. Forbes points out that "The U.S. is a very different market, both politically and economically. GM is clearly trying to strike a reasonable balance that reflects the political realities of a very divided country with an administration that is clearly hostile to any regulations."
There is a lot of truth to this observation and it needs to be taken into consideration by all sides. No, GM's proposal isn't perfect, but for a company that not too many years ago was definitely against EVs and CAFE requirements altogether, the proposal is a great step forward toward cleaner cars.
More about Zero emissions, General motors, epa rollback, MPG targets, ZEV requirements
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