In the battle between California and the Trump Administration over the state's right to set its own stricter emissions standards, General Motors sided with the President.
That decision may be costing GM, according to a new poll.
The majority of GM owners surveyed—regardless of party affiliation—oppose the automaker's stance on tougher California emissions standards, according to the poll, which was conducted by Matt George Associates for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Of the 1,000 owners surveyed, 51% who initially said they would "definitely purchase" another GM vehicle in the future changed their minds after learning of the automaker's stance on California emissions standards, according to the UCS. In addition, 76% of respondents said their opinion of the automaker would improve if GM reversed its position and supported stronger regulations.
GM's opposition to stronger California standards caused its favorability to decrease from 93% to 44%, according to the UCS.
The sentiment seemed to cross party lines, with 82% of Republicans and 93% of Democrats surveyed saying GM should support stronger emissions standards and measures to improve gas mileage.
Other factors played into respondents' dimmer view of GM, Matt George, who conducted the survey, noted. These include closing of a Lordstown, Ohio, factory (which was subsequently bought by a local startup aiming to build electric pickup trucks) and lack of progress in producing cleaner cars, which respondents viewed as violating GM's 2009 bailout agreement.
General Motors' BEV3 platform and Ultium batteries
When the Trump Administration moved to revoke California's ability to set higher emissions standards in 2019, four automakers—Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen—opposed the move, cutting a side deal with California.
GM, along with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Toyota, sided with the administration. The move has already led to some straightforward loss of business, as California has boycotted GM for fleet sales.
CEO Mary Barra has promoted an all-electric future, but the automaker has also stubbornly held to its One National Plan vision, which hinges on the federal government taking the lead on setting emissions standards and promoting electric cars. That is unlikely to happen under the current administration, which has made rolling back emissions regulations a priority.
GM's statement, provided to Green Car Reports, sidestepped the California pushback specifically but indicated it plans to double down on the strategy nevertheless, on a national and global level: "We have demonstrated our unwavering commitment to EVs and continue product development work on our future EV and AV portfolios (even during the Covid-19 pandemic). For the U.S., we continue to believe an electric vehicle program across all 50 states is what’s needed to help accelerate our transition to EVs, and for us to gain all the environmental and societal benefits."