GM, Ford to aim for all zero-emission vehicle sales by 2040 in Glasgow pledge

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and nine other automakers are signing a pledge on Wednesday to work toward all new car sales being zero- emissions vehicles globally by 2040. 

Under the pact, companies and other signatories also agree to aim for all zero-emission car sales in leading markets by 2035. The agreement came on the United Nations Climate Change Conference's transportation-themed day, when global leaders came together to consider ways to decarbonize mobility. 

The move builds on pledges made by the Detroit two automakers earlier this year, when they joined with rival Stellantis NV in agreeing to aim for 40-50% emissions-free vehicles sales goals by 2030. 

Volvo Cars Ltd., Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, China's BYD Co. Ltd. and Jaguar Land Rover also were among the signatories. Stellantis, Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., BMW and Hyundai Motor Co. were missing from the agreement. 

Nearly three dozen national governments also signed on to the pledge, but such important auto markets (and producers) as China, Germany and the United States are not. The City of Ann Arbor also was among 40 state and local governments that joined the agreement, including the states of Washington and California.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, the White House, Stellantis and Toyota did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Detroit News Tuesday night.

General Motors said in January that it aspires to sell only zero emissions vehicles by 2034 and pledged to make its global operations and products carbon neutral by 2040. The company also said in September that it would source 100% renewable energy to power its U.S. sites by 2025. 

"We are proud to now stand alongside other companies, governments and civil society organizations to support the Declaration to commit to working towards a transition to 100% zero emission vehicles by 2035," GM spokesperson Jeannine Ginivan said in statement. 

Ford has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050. Earlier this year, the Dearborn automaker said it expects to electrify 40% of its global lineup by 2030 and said its entire European passenger-vehicle lineup will be "zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid" by mid-2026 and all-electric by 2030.

The company said that it is also proud to work with the global coalition, which will be dubbed "RouteZero": “We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few and achieving goals once thought mutually exclusive — protect our planet, build the green economy, and create value for our customers and shareholders," said Cynthia Williams, global director of Sustainability, Homologation and Compliance, in a statement.

 "It will take everyone working together to be successful. Partnerships like RouteZero can build momentum and deliver real solutions.” 

The announcement comes as global automakers, including the Detroit Three, are investing heavily in electrified vehicles and as scientists warn that the earth's changing climate is approaching a "code red for humanity."

VW spokesperson Esra Aydin told The News Wednesday morning that the global zero-emissions goal of the Paris Agreement "is non-negotiable" and that the company is committed to quickly shift its portfolio to battery electric vehicles. 

But "while transformative speed is of the essence, the pace of transformation will still differ from region to region (Europe, U.S., South America, China), depending, among others on local political decisions driving EV and infrastructure investments," she said in an email.

"Furthermore, we believe that an accelerated shift to electro mobility has to go in line with an energy transition towards 100% renewables. ... Regions developing at different speed combined with different local prerequisites need different pathways towards zero emissions. Therefore, the Volkswagen Group, representing business activities in all major-markets world-wide decided not to sign the declaration at this point in time.”

Stellantis has not made commitments for when it will stop selling internal-combustion engine vehicles. The automaker this summer said it’s investing $35.5 billion into electrification by 2025 and will have fully electric options across all its nameplates by 2030.

It projects plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles to represent more than 40% of sales in the United States and more than 70% in Europe. Prior to the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French automaker Groupe PSA that created Stellantis, PSA said it would no longer invest in internal combustion engines.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will be in Glasgow on Wednesday to participate in conversations about decarbonizing transportation. He is expected to tout the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed late last week, which includes $7.5 billion in funding for electric vehicle charging stations. 

Detroit News Staff Writers Jordyn Grzelewski, Kalea Hall and Breana Noble contributed.

Twitter: @rbeggin