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GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

  • Transportation — including passenger cars but also trucking, aviation and other forms — is the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and a huge source  worldwide.

The big picture: The 2035 "aspiration" would put GM on the same timeline with the state of California, and an identical or similar path t0 several countries with plans to phase out sales of internal-combustion vehicles.

How it works: The target to make all light-duty vehicles zero-emissions is part of a wider climate pledge GM unveiled Thursday. The company said it plans to become "carbon neutral" by 2040.

  • CEO Mary Barra said Thursday that the target means "removing emissions from all our products, including every vehicle we produce, and all of our global operations in the next twenty years."
  • "Where removing emissions is not possible — for example if the technology does not yet exist in those timeframes — we will compensate for those emissions through carbon credits or carbon capture," she said in a LinkedIn post.

By the numbers: GM said that tailpipe emissions account for 75% of its carbon footprint. The new pledge comes as the automaker has been speeding up rollout of new EVs, with a number of models hitting showrooms in the next several years.

The company plans to offer 30 all-electric models by the mid-2020s and says it's investing $27 billion over the next five years on electric and autonomous vehicle development.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 29, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Electric vehicle sales far surpass pandemic expectations

Data: EIA; Note: 2020 figures are preliminary; Chart: Axios Visuals

New International Energy Agency preliminary data shows that worldwide sales grew by an estimated 40% last year, exceeding the agency's expectations.

Why it matters: The increase occurred despite a drop on overall global vehicle sales.

Jan 29, 2021 - Podcasts

When investing goes viral

You've likely heard the headlines this week about the stock market mania around GameStop. But this isn't just about the stock market. It's a kind of populist uprising borne of the Internet.

  • Plus, what’s behind GM’s big electric vehicle announcement.
  • And, the new Wild West is in outer space.
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Transportation's next big thing: flying taxis

Photo: Joby Aviation

The next big thing in transportation could be electric flying taxis — think of a drone crossed with a helicopter — that would ferry people and goods high above congested roadways.

Why it matters: Air taxis are billed as a cheaper, faster, cleaner mode of transportation, and an important link between remote areas and population centers. But there are still technical and regulatory challenges to overcome — not to mention public skepticism.