DETROIT — General Motors Co. plans to stop selling gasoline-powered vehicles worldwide by 2035 as it works toward a goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040.
"General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world," CEO Mary Barra said.
"We believe that with our scale and reach we can encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole."
GM's commitment to carbon neutrality follows promises from other auto makers, including Ford Motor Co., Volvo Cars and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. GM's goal is a decade ahead of the targets Ford and Nissan have set but in line with Volvo's.
The seismic shift in product strategy will have a significant impact on showrooms and manufacturing plants in China and North America, where the company is a leading producer and seller of light trucks and cars.
"To get there we'll have 100% of our portfolio fully electric, and that's the vision we're setting," Dane Parker, chief sustainability officer, said on a call with reporters.
GM has said it will invest $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicle development and launch 30 EVs globally through 2025. GM aims to sell zero-emission vehicles across a range of price points and segments, power its facilities with renewable energy and work with stakeholders to build a charging infrastructure and promote customer adoption of EVs.
The auto maker signed a pledge called the "Business Ambition for 1.5 Degrees Celsius" to help limit global warming and meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which the U.S. rejoined shortly after President Joe Biden took office last week, GM said.
The vehicle maker also said it will work with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035, when California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles.
"GM is making it crystal clear that taking action to eliminate pollution from all new light-duty vehicles by 2035 is an essential element of any auto maker's business plan," EDF President Fred Krupp said in GM's statement.
"EDF and GM have had some important differences in the past, but this is a new day in America — one where serious collaboration to achieve transportation electrification, science-based climate progress and equitably shared economic opportunity can move our nation forward."
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., commended GM's carbon neutral announcement.
"We have had discussions for months with the auto industry, labor unions and the environmental community on concrete actions like this that must be taken to reach carbon neutrality," Ms. Dingell said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us."
As the U.S. ramps up efforts to transition to an electrified future under the Biden administration, Ms. Dingell said she will continue to "engage with all stakeholders to create an electric vehicle infrastructure to support these efforts and help our domestic auto industry compete globally" while also focusing on "creating jobs, confronting climate change and the transformation of an innovative mobility industry."
Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers (UAW) said it is working closely with the new administration on policies related to the long-term development of EVs in the U.S.
"Even with these new product goals, it will be some time before the transition occurs," the UAW said, "but the important thing is that President Biden agrees with our position that any new jobs replacing combustible engines are union wage and benefit jobs that are created right here in the U.S. And we believe the Detroit 3 will locate these new products right here in the U.S."
Steps to carbon neutrality
GM said it will decarbonize its portfolio by transitioning to EVs or other zero-emission vehicle technology and sourcing renewable energy. Despite the sweeping actions, GM still expects to invest sparingly in carbon credits or offsets to account for remaining carbon issues, the statement said.
"Where removing emissions is not possible — for example if the technology does not yet exist in those timeframes — we will compensate for those emissions through carbon credits or carbon capture," Ms. Barra said. "Our preference will always be for removal of emissions. This is a critical step on the path to a net-zero-carbon future."
GM will also increase fuel efficiency of its gas-powered vehicles with fuel economy improvement technology, such as stop-start, aerodynamic efficiency enhancements, downsized boosted engines, more efficient transmissions and other vehicle improvements.
The auto maker aims to have all of its U.S. sites powered by renewable energy by 2030 and global sites by 2035.
GM has created a sustainability council with its suppliers to share best practices and create new industry standards, the statement said.
For many consumers, Ms. Barra said, owning an EV today is unreasonable because the right vehicle isn't in the market or access to charging is limited where they live and work.
"That is why it is critical we improve the fuel efficiency of the gas- and diesel-powered vehicles many people still rely on for their families and their livelihoods," she said.
"This is also why it is so important we deliver a full range of electric vehicles. It's why we are working to improve access to renewable-energy charging and why, with our Ultium technology platform, we are advancing the technologies necessary to increase the range of EVs."
Audrey LaForest, Automotive News, contributed to this report.