G.M. seems to be following a pattern set by Ms. Barra in reacting quickly to changes in the White House. It was Ms. Barra who met with the new President in the Oval Office in the early days of the Trump administration and asked him to reset Obama’s strict rules on exhaust pipe pollution.
Four years later, her company’s apparent U-turn has earned her the goodwill of those working to get these rules back in effect.
“This step by G.M. is a big deal, “said Margo Oge, a former Obama administration official who played a leading role in developing the stringent fuel economy standards and now informally advises the Biden administration and auto companies. “This will help the Biden-Harris administration focus on long-term decarbonization of vehicles rather than just cleaning up the Trump mess.”
The chairman of the board of directors at Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury car company, said customers will ultimately determine the pace of the transition to electric cars. “Ten years ago nobody could have foreseen the enormous speed of change,” said Markus Duesmann, Managing Director, who is also Head of Technology at Volkswagen, in a statement.
Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, a seasoned industry analyst, said that even if European automakers hadn’t set a date for the decline in combustion, there was consensus that electric cars would dominate within 10 or 15 years. “Mary Barra is a good C.E.O.”, said Mr. Dudenhöffer. “She has the right strategy.”
Mr Biden made it clear on his first day in office that he wants to make the fight against climate change one of the driving forces on his agenda. Most notably, these include federal standards for automatic exhaust pipe pollution, which are the largest source of heat-storing greenhouse gases nationwide.
According to Obama-era standards, automakers had to achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which would have eliminated about six billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution for warming the planet over the life of vehicles and required a large-scale transition to hybrid and Electric vehicles. The Trump administration has rolled back the standard to around 40 miles per gallon, so companies no longer have to invest in such technology.