GM to phase out petroleum-powered vehicles by 2035

By Jenny LescohierJanuary 28, 2021

It’s happening. After years of moves toward a zero-emissions future by vehicle and equipment manufacturers, an impactful decision by one of the world’s largest automakers just might have pushed the effort into a sure-thing reality.

General Motors announced it will phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035. This is a massive pivot by a U.S. company that currently profits from gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

Electric cars represent the fastest-growing segment of the auto industry, but they still make up only a small portion of new car sales. According the International Energy Agency, global sales grew by more than 60% every year over the past decade except for 2019, when growth slowed down to 6% as the regulatory environment changed in China and passenger car sales contracted in major markets. Still, electric vehicle sales reached 2.2 million last year, securing their highest ever share – 2.6% – of the global car market.

According to GM, the company will focus on offering zero-emissions vehicles across a range of price points and working with all stakeholders, including the Environmental Defense Fund, to build out the necessary charging infrastructure and promote consumer acceptance while maintaining high-quality jobs.

“GM will offer 30 all-electric models globally by mid-decade and 40% of the company’s U.S. models offered will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025,” a press release said. “GM is investing $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles in the next five years – up from the $20 billion planned before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

According to information on its website, General Motors plans to achieve its goals through its Ultium platform, which features modular battery and drive unit combinations that are “flexible enough to build a wide range of trucks, SUVs, crossovers, cars and commercial vehicles with outstanding design, performance, range and affordability.”

For its part, the construction equipment industry has made great strides in the past decade toward a zero-emissions future. Just this month, heavy hitters such as Komatsu and John Deere have announced plans to further develop electric-powered equipment concepts.

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