General Motors says it will immediately step away from Trump administration efforts to scale back strict fuel economy standards in California and work with Joe Biden on plans that align more with environmental and climate change goals.
GM and other automakers had joined the Trump administration in fighting California’s tight fuel economy rules in court.
Competitors Ford, Honda and Volkswagen sided with the state and supported the stricter standards, which were part of former President Barack Obama’s administration, which included Biden as vice president.
In a letter Monday to 11 leading environmental groups, GM CEO Mary Barra said she supports Biden’s effort to address climate change.
The move marked an abrupt about-face from the automaker’s position under President Donald Trump’s four years of leadership.
General Motors’ policy swing is rooted largely in the company’s ongoing efforts to produce more fully electric vehicles.
“We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the president-elect, California and General Motors are aligned to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” Barra said.
“We are confident that the Biden administration, California and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future to better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”
California has opposed efforts by the Trump administration to bar the state from setting its own fuel economy standards. California has been joined by nearly two dozen other states and environmental groups in fighting legal challenges.
Ford spokesman John Cangany said the automaker, traditionally GM’s chief rival, welcomed the decision.
“Fighting climate change requires all stakeholders to come together,” Cangany said. “We believe that our framework agreement is the best path forward for customers, the environment and the short- and long-term health of the auto industry.”
California said in September that all cars sold in the state must be fully electric, beginning in 2035.
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