Because business is business.
General Motors has fully completed the reversal of its previous support for the Trump administration's position regarding California's right to set its own vehicle emissions rules. In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and Liane Randolph, the chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), GM reiterated its commitment to a zero-emissions future and acknowledged the Golden State's authority to set its own laws.
"GM is proud to share California's vision of an all-electric future with zero emissions," said Omar Vargas, GM vice president and head of Global Public Policy. Following this, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that "GM is joining California in our fight for clean air and emission reduction as part of the company's pursuit of a zero-emissions future. This agreement will help accelerate California's nation-leading commitment to tackling the climate crisis. We welcome GM in our clean vehicle revolution."
The state of California has long been a pioneer in setting strict new environmental laws. CARB was established in 1967 with the goal of setting new mandates to help reduce emissions. Since then, other states, including the federal government, have adopted some of California's laws. In September 2020, Gov. Newsom announced an executive order banning sales of all new ICE-powered passenger vehicles beginning in 2035. He signed the order on the hood of a then-new Ford Mustang Mach-E.
This action not only led to several more states following suit, but also a direct confrontation with the federal government under the previous administration. Automakers were forced to choose sides and General Motors backed the Trump administration. Then Joe Biden was elected into office a couple of months later. GM soon reversed its position regarding California setting its own emissions laws.
Its latest announcement recognizes California's authority to set vehicle emission standards under the Clean Air Act. It's now eligible for fleet government fleet purchases by the state of California. Exactly one year ago, GM announced plans to end internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales by 2035 in all light-duty vehicles. Last June, it committed to spending $35 billion through 2025 on electric and autonomous vehicles and related technologies, a 30 percent increase over a previously declared amount.
California's battle with the Trump administration began in November 2019. It decided to end all purchases of new vehicles for state government fleets from any automaker, including GM and Toyota, which backed the previous administration's emissions policies. GM was particularly concerned. The state had bought nearly $59 million worth of GM vehicles from 2016 to 2018.