In a move that comes as little surprise to the industry given recent statements by chairman & CEO Mary Barra, General Motors announced today its ambitious goal to exclusively offer electric vehicles in its light-duty segments by the year 2035 and become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040. The announcement comes a day after President Biden signed a series of executive orders prioritizing climate change.
“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” said Barra. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.”
“For General Motors, our most significant carbon impact comes from tailpipe emissions of the vehicles that we sell — in our case, it’s 75 percent,” Barra added in message on LinkedIn.
Electric vehicles currently account for 4.2-percent of global auto sales, and are anticipated to reach 20-percent by 2030. Such an aggressive move by the automotive industry presents a number of hurdles society will have to address, and swiftly, if automakers intend to exclusively offer zero-emission automobiles: the need for fast-charging infrastructure on a mass scale, energy production capacity and peak charge-time obstacles, the increased demand for lithium mining, vehicle and insurance costs, and vehicle range and charge times.
What remains to be seen is the impact of this more aggressive focus on EV technology will have on internal combustion engine and vehicle development in the near-term as GM phases them out over a relatively short 14-year period. This, of course, includes the Corvette, Camaro, and Silverado pickup trucks, all of which will transition to electric if they remain in GM’s portfolio. Will GM continue to invest in engine, transmission, and vehicle development, and if so, when will it shift these products into neutral and coast into the EV era?
This all further begs the question: will performance enthusiasts — and those who prefer their timeless and traditional automobiles — hang on to and upgrade their internal combustion vehicles, creating new a longer life for old cars and driving up demand and prices of used vehicles as 2035 nears?