G.M. Announcement Shakes Up U.S. Automakers’ Transition to Electric Cars

And China’s decision late last year required that most of the vehicles sold there by 2035 also be important because GM sells more cars in that country through its joint venture than in the United States. And Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands have said they will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2030.

GM has been talking about moving to zero-emission vehicles for almost two years. Last March, it unveiled modular battery technology that said it would reduce costs. A few months later, GM said it could reach a point where electric vehicles are priced much faster than gasoline-powered ones, as previously expected.

Ms. Barra was receiving support and input from an unexpected source – the Environmental Defense Fund, which had criticized GM in the past. The chief executive shared a barbecue dinner with the group’s president, Fred Krupp, at a conference in 2015, and they were in regular contact by phone and email until last fall.

“There was an optimism in both of us that we could reach common ground,” Mr. Krupp said.

In October, GM unveiled a Hummer electric pickup truck, and within a day it collected enough orders for all the trucks that GM had planned to build in the truck’s first year.

“There was another inflection point,” said Mr. Parker, chief stability officer. “It has been shown that consumers are really excited about owning electric vehicles.”

A few weeks later, Mr. Biden became president-elect. By December, GM was meeting with its transition team, Mr. Parker said. “Our vision of a zero-emission future aligns very well with their vision and their goals.”

At the same time, GM signed a pledge, known as Business Ambition for 1.5 degrees, to combat global warming. In early January, the company was home to 2035 as a possible date for the electrical transition, Mr. Parker said. On January 12, Ms. Barra appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show and elaborated on GM’s vision of future without tailpipe emissions, but did not give a specific date.

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