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General Motors Changes Course, Sides With California on Fuel Economy Regulations

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【Summary】With the incoming Biden Administration, General Motors has decided to no longer back President Donald Trump in his effort to stop California from setting its own emissions regulations.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Nov 28, 2020 7:40 AM PT
General Motors Changes Course, Sides With California on Fuel Economy Regulations

Last November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), backed by President Donald Trump, was sued by 23 states over the agency's attempt to revoke California's ability to set its own emissions regulations. States and automakers were divided, with some siding with California and others siding with the EPA. When it came to automakers General Motors originally sided with the EPA. But with President-elect Joe Biden set to focus on renewable energy sources and electric vehicles, GM is switching sides.

GM Changes Sides

At the beginning of this week, GM announced that it would be changing its stance on California's right to set its own emissions regulations. In a letter to environmental groups, GM CEO Mary Barra stated that the automaker was "immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us."

It's certainly a strange change, especially for GM, which has numerous vehicles that continue to use large V8 engines that get abysmal fuel economy. But the American automaker did just announce a major push toward EVs recently. GM claimed that it would bring 30 new electric vehicles to market by 2025. Its previous goal was to have 20 EVs on sale by 2023. Barra believes that GM's new EV goals align better with President-elect Joe Biden's agenda.

"We are confident that the Biden Administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future," read Barra's leather to 11 environmental leaders. "To better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us."

Why GM Made The Switch

While this is good news for California and consumers interested in electric vehicles, it shows just how fickle automakers can be to appeal to administrations and those with enough power to change regulations. If anything, GM's decision shows that it wants to play ball with the incoming administration instead of showing its commitment to EVs.

According to Barra, GM is "inspired" by President-elect Biden's Build Back Better plan. That proposal will see the country get 550,000 charging stations, one million jobs directly related to EVs, and expand the adoption of EVs in the U.S. It will also "position American automakers and manufacturers to win the race of electrification."

Going forward, we're sure more automakers will join General Motors in backing California. Allowing the state to have its own emissions regulations is going to help increase the appeal of EVs in the country, which is a good thing for automakers. We also expect more states to institute similar regulations as more EVs are introduced.

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