General Motors aims to end sale of gasoline vehicles by 2035

The US auto maker plans to become carbon neutral by 2040

GM sold 2.55 million vehicles in the US last year, but only about 20,000 were EVs. AFP
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General Motors is setting a goal to sell all its new cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks with zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, a dramatic shift by the largest US automaker away from gasoline and diesel engines.

GM, which also said it plans to become carbon neutral by 2040, made the dramatic announcement just over a week after President Joe Biden took office pledging to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and boost sales of electric vehicles.

GM sold 2.55 million vehicles in the US last year, but only about 20,000 were EVs, the Chevy Bolt hatchback. It said in November it was investing $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles over the next five years, up from $20bn planned before the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief executive Mary Barra has aggressively pushed GM to embrace EVs and shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles.

Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas said the decision is "based principally on economic grounds”.

Mr Jonas added that investors should look for most if not all auto makers "to follow GM’s precedent”.

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035. Several states, including Massachusetts, say they plan to follow suit.

Mr Newsom called GM's announcement a "game-changer" but the California Air Resources Board said "if GM is serious about cleaning up the air our children breathe today, it must also drop its defence of the Trump administration's rollbacks of federal vehicle emissions standards."

GM and other major automakers sided with Donald Trump last year in a legal challenge to his rollback of federal vehicle emissions standards through 2026.

However, in November, GM withdrew from a separate legal case in which it had sided with the Trump administration effort to bar California from setting its own vehicle emissions rules.

Last week, Mr Biden directed US agencies to reconsider the previous emissions rollback and the revocation of California's emissions authority.

GM is "open to working with California and the Biden administration to achieve agreement on a national standard and complementary policies to accelerate the electrification of the light-duty transportation sector," the company said in a separate statement.