In unexpected motion, General Motors Company united with Art Environmental Protection Fund (EDF) to recommend stricter emissions regulations for passenger vehicles. But skeptics remain unconvinced by the company’s stated commitment to environmentalism, citing GM’s history of struggles with tougher fuel economy regulations.

GM and EDF recommend Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set standards to ensure that at least 50 percent of new vehicles sold by 2030 will be zero-emissions while achieving a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a roadmap that aligns well with GM’s plan to all its own models electric by 2035.

But the automaker has made promises before only to renege on them later, says Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transportation Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity. Becker cited GM’s commitment to support California’s right to set its own clean air rules, which it later abandoned in support of former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit to end the state’s exemption.

“They retreated very seriously,” Becker says. “I think they want to be seen as making clean cars, but they really don’t.”

Kristen Simen, GM’s chief sustainability officer, says the electric push is real: Electric cars are coming, and GM wants government regulations to give all automakers a clear path to get there. The company’s Chevy Bolt EV has been on the market for six years, and GM has already committed part of its $35 billion budget to bringing 30 electric vehicles to market by 2025. “We’re committed to it,” Seaman says. “The plans are very much in line with our product plan.”

While GM’s biggest push to cut greenhouse gas emissions comes from its electrification plan, Seaman says the automaker will also improve fuel economy for its internal-combustion vehicles. Government data shows fuel economy for GM pickups and large SUVs has remained steady since 2018, but it hasn’t improved much for the biggest engines.

GM isn’t alone in its balancing act — older carmakers have found themselves in a difficult position. On the one hand, they need to push electrification to meet future regulations, and also because, as Tesla has proven, electric cars are growing in popularity. But to finance this conversion, they have to build high-capacity gasoline vehicles, which often have the lowest fuel economy.

At the moment, automakers mostly sell luxury electric cars with a price tag of $42,000 and up. GM has the Bolt EV for less than $30,000 and next year will produce the larger and roomier Cheverolet Equinox starting at $30,000.

“Looking ahead, if you look at our portfolio of electric vehicles, it covers every price point and every segment,” Seamen says.

But GM’s trigger in California has Becker doubting the automaker’s desire to follow through. In 2011, the company pledged “not to challenge” California’s waiver that allows the state to set its own fuel economy and emissions regulations. Former GM CEO Dan Akerson made the announcement in a signed letter to the US Department of Transportation. GM later joined Trump’s lawsuit to overturn the waiver. Then, with Joe Biden in office in 2021, GM dropped the lawsuit.

“Because of GM’s track record, I’m very skeptical,” Becker says.

The Union of Concerned Scientists holds a similar point of view. “GM, like many other automakers, has been an opponent of strong standards in the past, so we’ll be closely monitoring the substance of their promises,” said Dan Onaire, director of the Clean Transportation Program at UCS. email. “The EPA must move forward quickly with the next phase of standards so that we can reduce emissions in the coming years. Strict standards are the only thing that will ensure that GM and all automakers make the necessary emissions reductions.”

GM offered just that. Now the company has to deliver.

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