Climate Change

GM Proposing Zero-Emission Vehicle Standard

By Andrew Witzel

Here’s an interesting turn of events where an automaker is pushing a proposal that isn’t backed by anyone in the petroleum industry. It makes sense, GM has diversified in the last few years with an expanding range of hybrid and electric vehicles similar to several other automakers. These companies aren’t stupid and can see that the trend is starting to turn despite many in the world still debating whether climate change and carbon emissions are a real problem or not. This piece isn’t about that, well, not directly at least.

GM is taking a bold stand, along with 17 other states, against the EPA (and the Federal Government by proxy) by proposing the following National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) Program for all 50 states:

  • Automakers would be required to sell 7% zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2021, increasing 2% each year to 15% by 2025
  • Automakers would then need to be selling 25% ZEVs by 2030
  • System to measure ZEVs sold would be based on “credits” that would relate to car range
  • Options to use averaging, banking and trading to meet criteria could also be used to meet criteria

One of the tenets of the proposal is focused on battery technology and specifically reducing the cost of electric-car batteries. The cost of a battery in the Chevrolet Bolt EV is approximately $205 per kWh. The NZEV proposal has set a target for automakers and battery manufacturers to get that reduced to approximately $70 per kWh. A reduction of approximately 65% in the cost of the battery alone would put electric vehicles at or slightly below their gasoline powered counter-parts. Batteries are the one piece of technology that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade since lithium ion technology was introduced and is the Achilles heel limiting the overall range most EV’s have before requiring a recharge.

The problem that we as an American people are facing right now is a government that is walking policy backwards when the rest of the world is walking forwards. Call me crazy, but when I see the world doing one thing and our country doing something else, it’s a red flag to me. Whether climate change and carbon emissions are real or not, who give a flying fig. Change isn’t easy, never has been, never will be. We all get so caught up in the politics of it all that we lose sight of the bigger picture. GM is paving the way to an eventual future where petroleum isn’t going to be the primary fuel source. Now if they can only make those batteries cheaper and made out of something that doesn’t explode when you puncture them, we’d be in business.

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