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GM Finally Recognizes California's Right to Set Emissions Standards

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【Summary】Three years after General Motors backed Trump, the American automaker has changed its tune.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 15, 2022 7:15 AM PT
GM Finally Recognizes California's Right to Set Emissions Standards

When former President Donald Trump announced that his administration would attempt to stop letting California set its own fuel efficiency and emissions regulations, quite a few automakers sided with the administration. When automakers saw that President Biden was going to get elected, they started to change their tune. General Motors, which originally sided with President Trump, half-heartedly did. Now, some three years later after shaking hands with President Trump at a meeting to come out with more relaxed standards, GM is finally changing how it feels about California.

GM Sides With California

GM VP Omar Vargas wrote a letter to California governor Gavin Newsom. In it, he stated that "GM recognizes California's authority to set vehicle emissions standards under section 209 of the Clean Air Act," reversing course on its thoughts when President Trump was in office.

Of course, as with other things in life, GM isn't making this change out of the goodness of its heart. Nope. This is a business decision, as kissing up to California ensures the automaker gets the possibility to make some extra income. As Vargas points out in the letter, California has added GM to its list of automakers that it will consider for fleet vehicles. Obviously, California is America's largest EV market and with GM's recent push toward EVs, getting the state to purchase a large number of electric vehicles is too good to pass up. So, GM is swiveling its head to get into the right position as quickly as possible.

"GM is joining California in our fight for clean air and emission reduction as part of the company's pursuit of a zero-emissions future," Newsom said in a statement. "This agreement will help accelerate California's nation-leading commitment to tackling the climate crisis. We welcome GM in our clean vehicle revolution."

More EVs Are Coming From GM

GM now joins Ford, Tesla, Volvo, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen as other automakers on the list of possible fleet suppliers for California.

Suddenly, it seems like all of GM's moves line up well with California's. The automaker stated that it would stop selling gas-powered cars by 2040. Additionally, GM has plans to invest $35 billion into electric and autonomous vehicles by 2025. California is planning to ban the sale of new internal combustion vehicles by 2035. As of right now, 14 other states have decided to adopt California's plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in 18 years.

As a quick refresher, California has been allowed to set its own emissions standards under the Clean Air Act. Automakers have never been happy with this decision, as California's regulations have always been stricter than the rest of the country's. For the most part, automakers tend to make vehicles that meet California's requirements and then selling those to the rest of the country, because California's too big of a market to miss out on. The state is the largest automotive market in the U.S. and ranks in 10th place globally. Not being able to sell vehicles in California would be a huge blow to any brand.

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