Contributed by Bob Chabot
GM Promotes National Zero Emissions Vehicle Program
But will it keep the U.S. competitive worldwide?
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated its intention to lower fuel consumption standards, which would allow automakers to sell more vehicles with increased emissions. General Motors (GM), which originally lobbied for this change, has since clarified that its position wasn’t to lower the fuel standards, but rather to reach a 50-state fuel consumption solution that would establish and deliver better fuel economy. The automaker recently presented this comprehensive plan to the U.S. government, titled the National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) program.
Mark Reuss, GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, recently explained its proposal — titled the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks. “General Motors has a vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. This is a bold vision and getting there will take bold actions. We believe in a policy approach that better promotes U.S. innovation and starts a much-needed national discussion on electric vehicle development and deployment in this country.”
Mary Barra, General Motors CEO, and Mark Reuss, GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, discuss the automaker’s suggestion to the U.S. EPA for a 50-state fuel consumption solution with improved fuel economy. (Image — General Motors)
National ZEV Vehicle Program Elements
“The National Zero Emissions Program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future,” Reuss noted. “GM’s suggested program is modeled on its existing ZEV program, but includes several new points.” In particular, the framework:
- Establishes zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) requirements (by credits) each year, starting at 7 percent in 2021 and increasing 2 percent each year to 15 percent by 2025, then 25 percent by 2030.
- Models a crediting system per vehicle based on current ZEV program, electric vehicle (EV) range, and average banking and trading.
- Links requirements after 2025 to a commercial path toward viable EV battery cell availability at a cost of $70/kWh and adequate EV infrastructure development.
- Implements a Zero Emissions Task Force to promote complementary policies.
- Terminates the program when 25 percent target is met, or based on a determination that the battery cost or infrastructure targets are not practicable within the timeframe.
- Allows additional consideration for EVs deployed as autonomous vehicles and in rideshare programs.
GM is one of the biggest automakers pushing for electric vehicles. The company has also said publicly that it wants to reduce and eventually eliminate carbon emissions from its vehicles by transitioning to electric. And the automaker says this initiative would help competitors who have been slow to adopt electric vehicles get up to speed.
“The National Zero Emissions Program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future,” Reuss added. “If fully supported by the federal government and automakers, it would enable more than 7 million long-range electric vehicles to be on the road between 2021 and 2026, which would mean eliminating 375 million tons of CO2 emissions. Productions will then increase by two percentage points each year thereafter through 2030. GM also proposes establishing a Zero Emissions Task Force to bring the program to fruition. It includes tax credits that would reach an average of 25 percent by 2030, with individual determination based on vehicle range and other data.”
The U.S. EPA is considering lowering fuel standards risks placing the U.S. industry behind world vehicle producers and markets. Current EPA regulations, which may change, can be viewed here. (Image — U.S. EPA)
Too Little, Too Late?
Critics say the proposed goal by GM and other supporters for 25 percent more electric vehicles by 2030 is weak compared to some existing automaker standpoints by suppliers in both the U.S. and elsewhere. Some manufacturers are already targeting more than 25 percent of their sales nationally and globally to be electric years before 2030. In addition, Tesla delivered more EVs than any other automaker last quarter. In addition, Tesla alone is on pace to deliver 7 million long-range electric vehicles to the U.S market between 2021 and 2030.
China alone is on pace for 12 percent more ZEVs by 2020, which is about four years ahead of what GM proposes. Ever since China put its increased ZEV vehicle mandate in place, many automakers have been rushing to build EV factories for China that pales the U.S. production targets proposed by GM. And elsewhere in European, EV production plans are already set to dwarf U.S. production well before 2030.
For now, the NZEV is just a proposal that GM has submitted in its comments to the federal government in the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks. The U.S. government will ultimately determine whether it gets implemented. But critics say if the federal government wants to keep the worldwide competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry, it needs to implement a much more aggressive mandate that accelerates electrification plans at all levels.
[Editor's note: Visit MOTOR.com for the latest diagnostic and service insights.]