Reducing Carbon Impact
Our Journey to
We are addressing climate change in many ways, most importantly by accelerating the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and using renewable energy to power our own operations.
For the Road Ahead:
- Climate change is incorporated into GM’s risk management practices, which ensures that it is at the forefront of our daily decision-making.
- With emissions from the use of GM vehicles as the primary contributor to our carbon footprint, the most significant way we can make progress toward our zero-emissions vision is by transitioning to an electric vehicle portfolio.
- Over the past 18 months, we have made multimillion-dollar investments in EV manufacturing infrastructure, battery technology and the development of new EV models.
- We continue to address barriers to EV adoption by providing customers with easy access to charging stations, adding charging connectors at our own facilities and engaging with regulators on the need for a National Zero Emissions Vehicle program in the U.S.
- As GM accelerates an all-EV future, we are also accelerating our transition to renewable energy to power our operations.
- Harmonizing government fuel economy regulation at the national and global level
- Increasing consumer acceptance and adoption of EVs
- Achieving price and range parity between EVs and ICE vehicles, especially in periods of low oil prices
- Establishing collaborative and coordinated public/private partnerships to oversee the buildout of charging infrastructure
- Ensuring adequate capital to continue renewable energy investments
General Motors takes the challenge of climate change seriously and recognizes the role of the transportation sector in contributing to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is a driving force behind our vision of a future with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
We have consistently and publicly advocated for climate action and awareness, as well as policies putting a value on carbon. Our global commitment to improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and an all-electric, zero-emissions future is unwavering, regardless of the prevailing emissions standards in any region in which we operate.
In the U.S., ultimately we support modernizing the standards and creating one national program working with California and all stakeholders. This is why we’ve called for a U.S. National Zero Emissions Vehicle program. We intend to continue working with the California Air Resources Board, Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to improve fuel economy and our environment.
Our zero emissions future includes targeting Scope 3 emissions, which account for 98 percent of our carbon footprint. The top three sources of our Scope 3 emissions include vehicle emissions at 75 percent, supply chain emissions at 18 percent and logistics from inbound and outbound transportation of 2 percent. We also are targeting the emissions of our manufacturing operations, where we have committed to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, a decade earlier than our previous target. We are committed to transparent disclosure of our GHG emissions and actions we are taking to reduce them globally. We consistently reaffirm these points with our global employees and other stakeholders, including policymakers, regulators and shareholders.
Managing Climate Change Risk
Climate change has been incorporated into our enterprise risk management process. This designation ensures that these issues are at the forefront of daily decision-making and that we manage them at the highest levels of the organization. As an example, a cross-functional climate change scenario workshop in 2018 helped us assess the risks, challenges and opportunities associated with various 2-degree warming scenarios. The workshop consisted of a three-step process including exploring uncertainties and defining success in the future world; answering questions to shape each scenario; and performing an analysis to determine what GM should be doing now to influence our future. In 2019, we conducted an EV workshop to update the strategy developed from the scenario analysis results into our short, medium, and long term planning.
These exercises helped clarify risks, as well as highlighting opportunities. The discussions underscored that consumers are increasingly aware of the need to limit global warming, and this awareness will increasingly influence their purchases and brand perceptions going forward. Climate change concerns also are likely to drive new policy and regulations, as well as political and economic pressures to reduce emissions throughout the manufacturing value chain. And, the exercises validated the need for GM to continue to develop and sustain a comprehensive climate change strategy that addresses the concerns of all stakeholders, while allowing the business to transform.
Today, as part of that strategy, we identify and monitor climate change risks on a regular basis and plan accordingly. The need for this constant process reflects the volatility of risk factors and dynamics that can quickly change scenarios. By institutionalizing climate change risks as part of our enterprise risk management function, GM is better positioned to anticipate, detect and, ultimately, plan around these changes.
The CO2 emissions of our global vehicle fleet represent 75 percent of our carbon footprint today. We aim to take that percentage to zero so that our children will inherent a healthier planet.
Our journey to zero emissions entails a commitment to develop and deploy advanced technologies and to significantly enhance traditional ones. In the process, we help our customers save money over the life of their vehicle by using less fuel. We also look to ensure our long-term business success by complying with aggressive fuel economy and carbon-emissions regulations in markets around the world.
We know that customers want a no-compromise vehicle that is beautifully designed and fun to drive. They want a robust, reliable, fast-charging network that includes home, workplace and public solutions, and at least 300 miles of electric range on a full charge. Finally, they want pricing that is in line with internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicles. Simply put, GM wants to put everyone in an electric vehicle (EV), and we have what it takes to do so. Not only will this deliver societal benefits through zero emissions, but also an amazing ownership experience for our customers.
Our global commitment to realize an all-electric, zero-emissions future — from battery chemistry and architecture to safety validation and infrastructure — requires unprecedented investment in people and resources. This is why we’ve announced our intent to allocate more than $20 billion in capital and engineering resources to EV and autonomous vehicle (AV) programs between 2020 and 2025.
We want to get as many EVs on the road as possible. By mid-decade, our intent is to sell a million EVs per year in our two largest markets: North America and China, where we are working with our joint venture partners. GM’s flexibility and engineering focus will drive the scale required to accelerate our path to zero emissions in a profitable and efficient way. In addition, we are leveraging existing assets, such as production tools and body and paint shops, so that economies of scale can be realized with less capital and to further position the first generation of these products for profitability.
Though many of the details about our electric future were revealed during EV Week in the first quarter of 2020, we’ve been preparing for this future for years. We have two decades of electrification knowledge and experience and have invested billions in research and development. This includes a $1.5 billion investment three years ago at our Technical Center, where we have expanded and enhanced our state-of-the art battery testing lab, as well as other R&D facilities. The battery lab has been the largest and most advanced test lab in America for over a decade. The latest expansion brings the facility to more than 100,000 square feet and includes heavy and mild battery abuse test areas and new test chambers. Today, about 60 percent of the work at our Technical Center is focused on EV development compared with about 20 percent three years ago. These types of R&D investment are one reason that GM has more than 3,000 global patents related to electrification on file today.
The heart of our EV strategy is a new, highly flexible global EV platform powered by our proprietary Ultium batteries. This platform and propulsion system can power affordable transportation, luxury vehicles, work trucks and high-performance machines. As a result, GM can compete for nearly every customer in the market. Vehicles built on this platform will be capable of offering:
- GM-estimated range of up to 400 miles on some models when fully charged.
- Acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in as little as 3.0 seconds.
- Battery energy storage ranging from 50 to 200 kWh.
- Level 2 and DC fast charging with the capability to charge over 100 miles of range in 10 minutes.
- Motors to support front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel and performance all-wheel drive applications.
We are planning 19 different battery and drive unit configurations initially, including horizontal and vertical stacks to power vehicles ranging from affordable cars and crossovers to luxury SUVs and pickup trucks. To appreciate the ability to deliver this level of flexibility with just 19 EV propulsion combinations, consider that today we have 555 internal combustion powertrain combinations in production.
In North America, GM EVs will be powered by rectangular, pouch-style battery cells that are simple, lightweight and space-efficient. Our ability to stack the cells vertically is unique in the industry and allows for a flat cabin floor and more interior room than comparable EVs that use cylindrical battery packs. The pack also allows engineers to deliver vehicles with an optimized weight distribution and a low center of gravity to improve ride and handling.
GM’s new Ultium batteries boast a proprietary, low-cost chemistry and an easy-to-manufacture design. These batteries will have the high-nickel and low-cobalt content — reduced by 70 percent — in a large format pouch cell, which requires less wiring than smaller cells. The built-in battery management system eliminates 80 percent of the battery pack’s wiring as compared to those in the original Bolt EV. Our joint venture with LG Chem to develop and mass produce battery cells will drive cell costs below $100 per kWh, and we expect ongoing technological and manufacturing breakthroughs to drive costs even lower.
New vehicle programs require new manufacturing capabilities — a second area of focus and investment as we accelerate EV commercialization. With our partner LG Chem, we have announced plans to build a $2.3 billion plant in Lordstown, Ohio, to mass produce battery cells for our fleet of EVs. The plant, which will be about the size of 30 football fields, will have an annual capacity of more than 30 gigawatt hours and room for expansion. The plant that will eventually provide 1,100 new jobs.
In Michigan, we are investing $2.5 billion at two assembly plants. The first, Orion Township, will produce the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, which is designed and engineered off an advanced version of the award-winning Bolt EV architecture. Both models will be built side-by-side. The second plant, Detroit-Hamtramck, will be GM’s first assembly plant that is 100 percent devoted to EV production. This site, which will employ 2,200 people, will produce a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs, including the GMC Hummer EV and the Cruise Origin shared, electric, self-driving vehicle (please see our Transforming Mobility section). GM also will invest an additional $800 million in supplier tooling and other projects related to the launch of the new electric trucks.
global models with some form of electrification
metric tons of CO2
gasoline miles displaced
by GM BEVs
Global EV Portfolio
2019 Global Electrification Portfolio
In recent years, our electric future has been best seen in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which in model year 2020 is capable of driving an EPA-estimated 259 miles — a 21-mile increase from the previous model — on a single charge and is sold at an affordable price. Beginning in 2020, our EV portfolio will begin to expand with launches by Chevrolet, GMC and Buick. The next Chevrolet EV will be a new version of the Bolt EV, launching in 2021 as a 2022 model, followed by the 2022 Bolt EUV, launching Summer 2021. The Bolt EUV will be the first vehicle outside of the Cadillac brand to feature Super Cruise, the industry’s first true hands-free driver assistance technology for the highway.
The Cruise Origin, a self-driving, electric shared vehicle, shown to the public in January 2020 in San Francisco, was the first product revealed using GM’s third-generation EV platform and Ultium batteries. Later in 2020, GM plans to reveal the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV. Production of the Ultium-powered GMC Hummer EV is expected to begin in Fall 2021 at our Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.
Beyond North America, we also plan an acceleration of electrification technology in China, the world’s largest EV market. We are applying a diverse range of new energy solutions for China’s global and local brands, and the SAIC-GM joint venture will invest $4.3 billion to introduce at least nine hybrid or electric models over the next five years. Our established capability in China for battery pack testing and assembly will support the steady rollout of new energy vehicles (NEVs) and help lower battery costs.
Global Sales Volume of Alternative Drive Train Vehicles
Accelerating a zero-emissions future requires accelerating the development of a national EV charging infrastructure, the lack of which is a significant customer anxiety point today, slowing broad consumer acceptance of EVs. For the past decade, GM has been driving partnerships and collaborative efforts across a vast network of stakeholders to help stimulate the EV market. Today, our strategy to create a mass market for EVs is holistic, with a goal to make home, work and public charging quick, easy and efficient.
Charging Infrastructure Growth
GM has developed a wide range of tools to help more than 200,000 Chevrolet Volt and Bolt EV customers find fast, affordable and convenient charging solutions. For the 80 percent of EV customers who charge at home, GM has partnered with Qmerit to provide easy access to accredited home EV charging station installers in their area. To help on-the-go customers locate one of the 40,000-plus charging stations for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, GM has created the Energy Assist feature as part of the myChevrolet mobile app. This app also integrates real-time data from the EVgo and ChargePoint networks to help customers locate open charging stations. Owners also can link their EVgo account to activate and pay for charging sessions at eligible stations right from the app.
The workplace is a primary charging source for many EV drivers, yet 900,000 out of 1 million EV drivers are not able to charge their vehicles at work. Availability of workplace chargers has been shown to encourage EV adoption, and drivers are six times more likely to drive an EV when charging capabilities are provided at their workplace. We are committed to making our own facilities and campuses as EV-accessible as possible. To this end, we are adding 3,500 new charging connectors throughout our U.S. and Canadian facilities. This will triple the number of charging stations that GM currently provides. GM will prioritize charging installation sites based on employee need and will work with charging infrastructure companies to begin installing the charging locations starting in late 2020. GM employees will have access to Level 2 charging, ideal for efficiently charging EVs throughout a workday. Level 2 chargers can charge the current Chevrolet Bolt EV model up to a speed of 25 miles every hour.
Looking Into Our EV Future
Though the current level of EV innovation at GM is intense, there is room for more in the future. Already, we are envisioning a future of zero cobalt and zero nickel batteries. We are working on cathodes that have zero cobalt in order to lower costs and solve potential supply constraints. Similarly, we are working on cathodes that have zero nickel, the second most expensive cathode material. Maven deployed Bolt EVs in a high-mileage use-case, with vehicles driving an average of 40,000 miles per year within urban environments. This experience and high-mileage capability of the Bolt EV batteries. With our next generation of proprietary zeolite technology, the potential for million-mile battery life for shared mobility usage models is real. Finally, our battery R&D team is innovating across the gamut to give customers more range at lower cost. Already, we are developing cells that are almost twice the energy density of the Ultium battery cell and that could enable 500- to 600-mile ranges. This drive for greater range and lower cost is the key to making EVs for everyone and achieving our vision of a zero-emissions future.
EVs are GM’s future. As we move closer to our vision of an all-electric portfolio, we also are committed in the nearer term to improving the efficiency of vehicles that rely on the internal combustion engine. Continual improvements in vehicle engine and transmission efficiency, as well as vehicle weight, are helping us to eliminate excess material use in manufacturing, while reducing fuel use and costs for customers. Innovations around lightweight materials also further our EV development work.
As an example, across our four largest markets — the U.S., China, Brazil and Canada, over 75 percent of our 2019 volume contained stop-start technology, enabling the vehicle’s engine to turn off when the car is stopped or idled. These engines provide a fuel economy benefit of between approximately 3 to 5 percent, significantly decreasing CO2 emissions for consumers who face extended idle times. In the U.S., to date, stop-start engine technology has saved GM customers 293 million gallons of fuel and 2.61 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over the lifetime operation of their vehicles.
Expansion of Fuel-Saving Technologies in Conventional Vehicles
On a global basis, fuel economy and GHG emissions remain top-of-mind priorities for the transportation sector and apply to all GM products globally.
Emission requirements have become more stringent as a result of lower emissions standards and new on-board diagnostic requirements, which have come into force in many markets around the world, driven by policy requirements such as air quality, energy security and climate change.
The same transformative changes we’re responding to as a company also have implications for regulations like the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States. For example, when the current CAFE standards were first proposed and finalized in 2012, shared mobility was in its earliest stages, and autonomous vehicles did not even exist. We want to be sure that the regulations accurately account for the current and likely future state of our industry. In addition, we have recommended that EV incentives continue and that federal regulations be harmonized between NHTSA and the EPA, as we work toward a single national standard with all stakeholders, including California. For example, we believe that focusing on interim technologies such as hybrids and multiple solutions for multiple states slows the adoption of full battery electric vehicles. Common standards will allow us to advance innovation today and better prepare for the future.
In this spirit, we have called for a U.S. National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) program to help the U.S. move faster toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future. This move would create jobs, encourage innovation, improve the environment and make EVs more affordable for more customers. We believe that the most effective way to attain this goal is with an NZEV program based on the existing ZEV framework, supported by complementary policies. Such a program would be administered nationally by the EPA and represents a more harmonized solution than individual state-based programs.
The low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant R-1234yf has over 350 times less GWP than the refrigerant it replaces. Today, 35 percent of our global vehicles use R-1234yf. In the U.S., 88 percent of all light-duty vehicles used this refrigerant in the 2019 model year, and we are on a path for 100 percent to do so by model year 2021.
An NZEV program would establish requirements for automakers to incorporate ZEVs as an increasing part of their portfolios, up to 25 percent by 2030, put at least 7 million long-range EVs on the road over that decade and yield a cumulative incremental reduction of 375 million tons of CO2 emissions. It would also establish a Zero Emissions Task Force to promote complementary policies, such as charging infrastructure investments, renewed federal incentives for EV purchasing and regulatory incentives to support U.S. battery suppliers. The result of such a program would be to position the U.S. as a leader in electrification. GM will continue to have conversations with regulators in California and the federal government to help speed EV adoption and be ready for customers with the EVs they desire. Because broad consumer acceptance of EVs is critical, we also support continued incentives to make EVs more affordable for more customers.
Many countries around the world are adopting regulatory standards similar to those of the U.S., which are based on a footprint metric or size of the vehicle, or those of the EU, which are weight-based. In many cases, there are regulatory inconsistencies when fuel-saving solutions under one system do not translate to another. Though harmonized standards among countries are in the best interests of our customers and the environment, we realize development and acceptance can take years. That’s why we favor mutual recognition agreements, a practice by which two or more markets agree to recognize each other’s standards and eliminate costly and nonbeneficial redundancies.
|Volume-weighted average emissions across all three regions (g/km)||173.1||165.7||165.7||164.2|
The increase in the U.S. average reflects the ongoing market shift away from cars to trucks and SUVs, driven in part by relatively low gas prices and, in 2019, strong economic conditions. Across the markets in the table above, GM's three largest, volume-weighted average emissions continue to fall.
China implemented the China 5 emission standard nationwide in 2017, which is more stringent than the previous program at every level. The next round of standards, known as China 6, is expected to roll out nationally as early as 2021. China 6 combines elements of both European and U.S. standards, including stronger emission requirements and extended time and mileage periods over which manufacturers are responsible for a vehicle’s emission performance. We welcomed these changes — in fact, GM gave input as the new standards were being drafted, sharing best practices from our experiences in North America. Another important regulation in China is the NEV mandate, which allows manufacturers of passenger cars to earn credits for producing a certain volume of hybrid, battery electric and fuel cell vehicles. This policy, combined with consumer subsidies for purchasing NEVs, has made China an important market for our electrification solutions.
We are also focused on emerging markets, where we expect to realize a significant amount of business growth in coming years. In these markets, we want to find affordable product solutions for our customers, who generally have lower average household incomes, while meeting fuel economy mandates and regulations that are often aligned with those of more developed countries.
Within GM, we have institutionalized extensive governance processes that predict, plan, measure and assess our fleet’s fuel economy and emissions performance according to established government test procedures on a dynamic and country-by-country basis. We dedicate significant resources and use a complex algorithm to calculate the fuel economy of dozens of models sold across developed markets with increasingly stringent regulations, as well as emerging markets that are adopting similar regulations at a rapid pace. These calculations and the subsequent plans around them are an intrinsic part of our business that impacts nearly every operational function, from product development through delivery, on a daily basis.
While the majority of GM’s carbon footprint results from the use of our vehicles, a category of Scope 3 emissions, the scale of our manufacturing operations also presents significant opportunities for improvement. This has been an area of continued focus over the past decade, during which we have accomplished much.
GM was proud to reach our manufacturing carbon intensity goal — a 20 percent reduction in metric tons of CO2e per vehicle manufactured between 2010 and 2020 — three years ahead of schedule. After achieving this goal in 2017, we got to work developing an even more ambitious target: to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG (CO2e) emissions by 31 percent by 2030 compared to a 2010 baseline. This goal is consistent with the level of decarbonization required by the science-based target initiative methodology to limit warming to less than 2°C compared to preindustrial temperatures by 2050. Energy efficiency improvements and our RE100 pledge — a commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy in our operations — helped us reach our initial carbon goal. As we look toward 2030, we intend to build on these actions to help us reach our higher aspiration of absolute emissions reduction.
Reduce Energy Intensity by 20 Percent
Production volume in 2019 was 13% lower than 2018 due to market conditions and work stoppage in the U.S. Although energy conservation continued at the same pace, the intensity increased by 5%. We doubled our Energy Performance Contracting development in 2019 to maximize absolute energy reductions and will continue in 2020.
Absolute Reduction of Carbon by 31 Percent
GHG, Scope 1&2 Market Based, million metric tons
CO2e from operations reduced on an absolute basis in 2019 by 6% due to increased energy reduction, renewable energy, and lower production.
Just as we are accelerating our all-electric vehicle future, we also are accelerating our renewable energy commitments. In 2016, GM committed to sourcing 100 percent of our global electricity demand from renewable sources by 2050. Fast forward three years and we have renewable energy contracts that put our capacity to 24 percent renewable use.
In early 2020, in response to the need to accelerate efforts to address climate change, we pulled forward our 100 percent global renewable energy commitment to 2040 with interim goals of achieving 60 percent globally by 2025 and 100 percent of U.S. sites by 2030. In the second quarter of 2020, we executed our largest solar project of 300 MW in Michigan through a green tariff agreement, making all GM sites in Southeast Michigan served by DTE on renewable power, including our global headquarters in Detroit and Warren Technical Center. We finished 2019 with 23 sites completely powered by renewable energy, including our Arlington, Texas, assembly plant that is completely powered by wind energy.
By late 2022, our largest facility in North America, Spring Hill Manufacturing, is expected to be powered by 100 percent solar energy. This will be made possible through a green tariff agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is expected to supply up to 100 megawatts of solar energy per year. The energy will be supplied by a solar farm in Lowndes County, Mississippi, currently under development by Origis Energy (subject to environmental review). The commitment is made possible through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Invest program, which is the federal electric utility’s green tariff solution. At its completion, the project is expected to increase GM’s use of renewable energy to more than 50 percent of its sourced electricity by 2023.
We are making significant progress in the use of renewable energy to power our operations, combining physical and virtual power purchase agreements and onsite renewable energy projects, such as solar arrays and landfill gas projects. GM is also a member of RE100, a global collaborative initiative backed by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. RE100 brings together companies that have made commitments to use 100 percent renewable energy in their operations to share best practices and demonstrate the increased demand for clean power. GM is one of only three automakers, and the only one in North America, that has made the RE100 pledge.
In recognition of our efforts, GM received the 2019 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one of only seven organizations nationwide to receive the award. The awards recognize companies for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.
Top 30 On-site Generation List
By reducing energy use overall, there will be fewer electricity needs to be covered by renewable sources. GM uses an energy management system (EMS) and performance contracts to achieve energy-reduction goals. In 2019, 27 GM U.S. manufacturing facilities, or more than 90 percent of our U.S. manufacturing footprint, implemented the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 50001 Ready program. This program is an application tool through which 25 tasks are measured to demonstrate an effective EMS. Upon completion, facilities can self-attest to the structure of ISO 5001, a voluntary global standard. GM engaged with DOE to train the GM Energy team, along with suppliers and other companies on the 50001 Ready process. GM has implemented 50001 Ready at more facilities than any other participating company. We plan to expand this program to all of our manufacturing facilities globally in order to continuously monitor and improve our EMS.
GM also uses a variety of Energy Star initiatives as a framework for charting our progress in building energy efficiency. Energy Star’s Building Portfolio Manager (BPM) allows us to benchmark our progress and make continuous improvements. BPM integrates with our utility bill management system, sending an automated monthly analysis of building scores to evaluate building performance.