General Motors is Pushing for National Zero Emissions Program

General Motors is Pushing for National Zero Emissions Program

Author: Eric Walz   

General Motors is pushing for a National Zero Emissions Program (NZEV) to be adopted across all 50 states starting in 2021. The proposal includes a requirement that a percentage of auto sales by each manufacturer be zero-emissions vehicles.

On Friday, GM plans to file its proposed plan to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The automaker anticipates the NZEV program has the potential to place more than 7 million long-range EVs on the road by 2030, yielding a reduction of 375 million tons of CO2 emissions between 2021 and 2030 over the existing ZEV program.

"We believe in a policy approach that better promotes U.S. innovation and starts a much-needed national discussion on electric vehicle development and deployment in this country. A National Zero Emissions Program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future." said Mark Reuss, executive vice president and president, Global Product Group and Cadillac in a statement.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, will provide details of the request Friday in written comments on a Trump administration proposal to roll back Obama-era fuel economy and emissions standards, freezing them at 2020 levels instead of gradually making them tougher through 2025.

The two agencies are currently accepting comments on a proposed Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles regulation.

Alongside environmental considerations, GM's national program would aim to "preserve U.S. industrial leadership for years to come."

"A national zero-emissions program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero-emissions future," Reuss said.

GM's plan is modelled on California's Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Program. The proposal provides several framework recommendations, such as establishing annual zero emissions vehicle requirements. This would start at 7 percent in 2021 and rise by 2 percent each year, bringing the requirement to 25 percent by 2030.

Requirements after 2025 are linked to adequate EV infrastructure development and the commercially viable EV battery cell availability at a cost of $70/kWh, to make electric vehicles more affordable.  

When the first mass-market EVs were introduced in 2010, their battery packs cost an estimated $1,000 per kilowatt-hour. As battery technology advances, the cost to produce EVs is dropping. General Motors' 2017 Chevrolet Bolt battery pack is estimated to cost about $205 per kWh. The Bolt EV comes with a with a 60-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The battery is a significant portion of the sticker price.

EVs are forecast to cost the same or less than a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle when the price of battery packs falls to between $125 and $150 per kWh. Some industry analysts have forecast that this can be achieved as soon as 2020, while other studies have forecast the price of a lithium-ion battery pack to drop to as little as $73 / kWh by 2030.

The establishment of a Zero Emissions Task Force was an additional recommendation by GM, as well as developing electric vehicles in self-driving vehicle projects.

Reuss said the nationwide program aligned with the company's wider ambitions.

"General Motors has a vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. This is a bold vision and getting there will take bold actions," he said in a statement.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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