American giant General Motors to end production of petrol & diesel cars

America’s biggest car manufacturer has called time on gas guzzling and committed to ending production of all petrol and diesel-powered cars, sports utility vehicles and light pick-up trucks by 2035.

General Motors announced its goal to “eliminate tailpipe emissions” within 14 years as it speeds up plans to electrify its vehicles. Mary Barra, chairwoman and chief executive, said that the company was seeking to “set an example of responsible leadership in a world that is faced with climate change”.

The task will be a gargantuan one. Only about 20,000 of the 2.55 million vehicles the company sold in its home market last year were electric.

The group is the largest carmaker in the US by sales, producing vehicles under the Chevrolet, GMC and Buick marques, and has a market value of about $73 billion. The carmaker is placing a huge bet on electric vehicles, having pledged to launch 30 electric models by 2025 and presenting itself as a clean automotive company.

This month GM entered the electric vehicle delivery market, announcing the launch of Bright Drop commercial vans, and joined forces with Microsoft to lead further investment in Cruise, an autonomous car start-up of which it acquired a majority stake for more than $1 billion five years ago.

The manufacturer’s target for zero emissions by 2035, described in an official press release last night as an “aspiration”, is part of a plan developed with environmental advocates to become entirely carbon neutral by 2040.

About 75 per cent of GM’s carbon impact comes from the exhaust emissions of the vehicles it sells. The company pledged in November to invest $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles over the next five years.

“It is understood that we will need to reduce the net impact of carbon emissions from all human activities to zero by 2050,” Ms Barra, 59, wrote on Linkedin. “As one of the world’s largest automakers, General Motors seeks to lead our industry and our world toward those goals.”

Medium and heavy duty trucks are not covered by its 2035 goal for emissions.

Shares in GM rose by a third this month to their highest level since the carmaker floated in New York a decade ago, amid vast market interest in electric vehicles. They have since pulled back slightly but rose 3.5 per cent to close at $51.04 in New York last night.

Multinationals are under growing pressure to increase their commitment to tackling climate change. Blackrock, the world’s largest money manager, warned this week that firms that failed to do so could be removed from its actively managed funds.

Carmakers also face the looming prospect of regulatory intervention. Gavin Newsom, governor of California, has said that the state intends to prohibit the sale of new petrol-powered cars and trucks by 2035.

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