A California newspaper is slamming General Motors in a searing editorial urging consumers to give pause before buying a new vehicle from the automaker.
It stems from GM's move one week ago when GM did an about-face and said it will no longer back President Donald Trump's effort to stop California from setting its own emissions rules.
With that, GM withdrew from preemption litigation between California, the Trump administration and other non-government groups.
GM CEO Mary Barra cited the alignment of GM's electric vehicle goals with President-elect Joe Biden's endorsement of EVs as the reason to withdraw from the litigation.
Biden praised GM for the move. But not everyone is buying GM's change of heart.
In an editorial in Sunday's Sacramento Bee titled, "GM sided with Trump against California. Please remember this when buying a new car," GM is portrayed as a Benedict Arnold — the American military officer who defected to the British side during the Revolutionary War.
"Like rats from a doomed ship, a few of President Donald Trump's prominent supporters have begun to abandon him now that it's clear he cannot overturn Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election. Among the biggest and most venerable evacuees: General Motors Corp.," the editorial began.
The editorial said GM had been Trump's "lapdog" a year earlier when the president sought to roll back the Obama administration's fuel efficiency requirement from an average of 55 mpg to 40 mpg by 2026.
Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board had a deal with five automakers — BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo — to adopt a 51 mpg average fuel efficiency standard by 2026. But Trump challenged that deal and got GM's backing. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, along with Toyota Motor Corp., also backed the Trump administration's effort to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements.
"Now that Biden has triumphed, GM wants to get back on the right side of policy — and history," the editorial said. "If Trump hadn't lost the election, however, there's no doubt that GM would still be aiding and abetting his attack on California, climate action and the future of the planet.
"California consumers should remember this when deciding which brand of car to purchase. If you wouldn't drive a car with a Trump 2020 sticker on the bumper, why would you buy a Buick, a Cadillac, a Chevy or a GMC?"
A GM spokeswoman declined to comment on the editorial other than to point to a letter Barra sent to environmental leaders last week.
In it, Barra wrote, "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. 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."
Barra said to "better foster the necessary dialogue," GM was immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and asked other automakers to join it.
"Given this shared enthusiasm and the President-elect's call to bring the country back together, we believe there is now a path to achieve agreement on a national standard and complementary policies to accelerate the electrification of the light-duty transportation sector," Barra said.
Biden had met with Barra, UAW President Rory Gamble and other business and union leaders earlier this month as part of his transition. He said GM's choice to work with California is central to his Build Back Better plan, and that innovation and manufacturing issues were discussed as part of the meeting.
In a Tweet following GM's news, Ford CEO Jim Farley praised GM's move to withdraw its support from the Trump administration's attempt to block California's right to set its own clean air standards.
Likewise, John Cangany, a spokesman for Ford said, "We welcome all automakers to follow Ford's lead in standing with California for lower greenhouse gas emission. Fighting climate change requires all stakeholders to come together. 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."
GM has laid out an ambitious plan to eventually offer an all-electric lineup in what it calls its zero emission, zero crashes and zero congestion future business model. Barra told Wall Street that it is increasing the number of electric vehicles it will bring to market. GM will offer 30 new EVs by 2025, up from its previous goal to offer 20 by 2023.
In September, California said all new passenger cars sold in the state must be all-electric by 2035, and no new internal combustion engine vehicles will be permitted to be sold there.(c)2020 Detroit Free Press Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC