General Motors Supports Ban on ICE Cars

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The nation’s largest automaker said Wednesday it could support the greenhouse gas emission limits other auto makers have agreed with California – if they are achieved largely by boosting sales of all-electric vehicles.

This is a new position for General Motors, which previously supported the Trump administration’s efforts to make it impossible for California to set its own limits. GM’s words could move the carmaker closer to a deal with the California government that five other automakers signed in 2019, raising hopes for a breakthrough in the industry deal.

Details of GM’s changed stance emerged in a letter from CEO Murray Barr to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who met with auto companies this week ahead of the agency’s publication of its proposed air pollution and fuel economy standards set for a later period. Regan discussed the standards with GM CEO Mary Barra, and this week he also spoke with representatives from Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) and Toyota, the EPA reported.

There is still much disagreement over what automakers will agree to as the Biden administration takes steps to lift the pollution and gas mileage standards set by former President Donald Trump.

In a letter to Regan from Tuesday, Barra wrote that GM now supports the demands of a 2019 deal between California and five of its competitors: Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, BMW and Volvo. The Trump administration took steps to make it impossible for California to set its own standards, and GM backed Trump in subsequent lawsuits. Biden is trying to restore California’s standards, which at least 13 other states are following.

The transition to electric vehicles is already happening, but slowly. Experts said it will be difficult to replace the 279 million passenger cars currently on US roads, most of which run on gasoline, with electric vehicles in less than 15 years. The average car in the US is now almost 12 years old, so it stays on the road longer than in the past. And without immediate changes, the number of gasoline-powered vehicles will continue to grow. According to IHS Markit forecasts, there will be 284 million by 2025.