GM Switches Sides in the Gas War, Joins California/Biden

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

General Motors has changed its mind on backing the Trump administration’s effort to supplant Obama-era emission regulations with something more manageable and prohibit California from setting its own emissions rules. Of course, the coastal rules aren’t really just for California — it desperately wants to export them to the rest of the country and has made rather incredible headway for not being the federal government. The coastal region has already convinced over 20 states to follow in its footsteps and even amassed support from auto manufacturers like BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen Group.

Other automakers, including General Motors, felt the Trump plan would give them more flexibility and undoubtedly make them less subject to government fines. However, with a Biden presidency assured without Trump and Co. having an extremely powerful voter fraud case, GM has become a turncoat. On Monday, CEO Mary Barra issued a letter to environmental groups stating that her company is “immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”

GM now wants to work with Joe Biden — probably because the company understands his administration is going to be regulating the snot out of the nation.

While famously unwilling to commit on several key issues, Biden has said he wanted to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, phase out hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking), and is assumed to put the kibosh on Trump’s fuel rollbacks. That likely means ending the United States’ brief stint of energy independence, increased gas/electricity prices, and encouraging automakers to build small-engine cars that will eventually be supplanted by electric vehicles.

President Trump has repeatedly warned that such moves would give an advantage to China, which doesn’t have to make any changes under the Paris Agreement until 2030. He did so again at this week’s G-20 summit, stating that the U.S. was already making the most headway toward becoming carbon neutral of any nation. “[The Paris Climate Agreement is] not designed to save the environment,” he said. “It was designed to kill the American economy.”

Either way, Biden is taking an incredibly different approach and has seen corporate interests line up behind him in a manner Trump could only have dreamed of. Last week, GM even increased spending on EVs and autonomous vehicles by 35 percent from its previously announced plans. We’re guessing that had something to do with the media reporting that the Biden-Harris ticket would be cashed in for 2021.

According to Reuters, Barra said she believes “the ambitious electrification goals of the president-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions.”

From Reuters:

Toyota said in a statement Monday that the company has “long supported year-over-year improvements in fuel economy standards” that provide climate and national energy security benefits but it had backed the Trump administration plan “knowing there was a preponderance of other automakers” aligned.

“Given the changing circumstances, we are assessing the situation, but remain committed to our goal of a consistent, unitary set of fuel economy standards applicable in all 50 states,” the company said.

While other automakers backing the Trump plan have remained silent so far, Democrat leadership and environmental activists had been howling that the United States must modernize to remain competitive. They claim the Trump rollbacks have no place in an America that’s striving to become more like its neighbors.

The Trump administration finalized a rollback of fuel efficiency standards in March, adding a concession increasing annual efficiency rates by 1.5 percent through 2026. But it’s far below the 5 percent yearly jumps the Obama administration rules mandated, even if experts have suggested such increases would be untenable. While we cannot say what’s to become of Trump’s fuel rules under a Biden presidency, we don’t foresee them lasting.

[Image: Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Sstreky Sstreky on Nov 29, 2020

    Volkswagen uses dual port and direct injection In the European market to comply with their greater participant requirements. I realize Toyota also incorporates this in their US models but more manufactures probably would do this if arson requirements for tighter. Makes for a cleaner engine as well as more power output.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Nov 30, 2020

    Speaking of howling and snot...Posky, if you want to get hysterical about politics, write for a political blog. Or maybe Tim could set and enforce some quality standards. Bueller--I mean, Healy? Healy? Every time I come back here lately, I'm reminded why it's been longer and longer since the visit before.

  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.
  • Lorenzo Massachusetts - with the start/finish line at the tip of Cape Cod.
  • RHD Welcome to TTAH/K, also known as TTAUC (The truth about used cars). There is a hell of a lot of interesting auto news that does not make it to this website.
  • Jkross22 EV makers are hosed. How much bigger is the EV market right now than it already is? Tesla is holding all the cards... existing customer base, no dealers to contend with, largest EV fleet and the only one with a reliable (although more crowded) charging network when you're on the road. They're also the most agile with pricing. I have no idea what BMW, Audi, H/K and Merc are thinking and their sales reflect that. Tesla isn't for me, but I see the appeal. They are the EV for people who really just want a Tesla, which is most EV customers. Rivian and Polestar and Lucid are all in trouble. They'll likely have to be acquired to survive. They probably know it too.
  • Lorenzo The Renaissance Center was spearheaded by Henry Ford II to revitalize the Detroit waterfront. The round towers were a huge mistake, with inefficient floorplans. The space is largely unusable, and rental agents were having trouble renting it out.GM didn't know that, or do research, when they bought it. They just wanted to steal thunder from Ford by making it their new headquarters. Since they now own it, GM will need to tear down the "silver silos" as un-rentable, and take a financial bath.Somewhere, the ghost of Alfred P. Sloan is weeping.