General Motors has agreed to recognize California’s authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards. This will make GM vehicles eligible for California government fleet purchases, according to the automaker.
These statements were made in a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom first shared with The Detroit News. GM said in the letter that it is “committed to complying with California’s regulations.”
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GM initially backed an effort by the Trump administration to strip California of its ability, under the Clean Air Act, to set emissions standards that are tougher than federal standards. GM only halted its challenge of California’s clean-air standards in November 2020, after state results verified President Biden’s victory.
Polls had already suggested that its opposition to the California rules was costing it in reputation and sales. In November 2019, California said it planned to halt all fleet purchases from GM and other automakers—including Toyota—that backed then-President Trump in the emissions fight.
GM asked last June for a “compliance pathway” in federal rules, and first voiced support for the California rules. The automaker mapped out a path that would see national standards through 2026 coincide neither with lax Trump-era rules or the stricter Obama-era rules, but with voluntary agreements automakers reached with California in 2019 and 2020.
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That, GM suggested at the time, could segue into applying California’s ambitious goals nationwide. The state plans to end sales of most new internal-combustion passenger vehicles by 2035, but the Biden administration has been mum on a comparable national goal.
Adopted federal rules for fleet emissions and fuel economy will require more EV sales, but a projection of about 8% EVs nationally by 2026 for compliance still means California is leading the way.
GM said a year ago that it “aspires” to eliminate tailpipes from its new light-duty vehicles by 2035. Industry-wide, automakers have discussed a goal of 40% EVs by 2030, including battery electric, hydrogen fuel-cell, and plug-in hybrid vehicles.