GM Plans Major EV Expansion with Hertz; Proposes Standards to Accelerate All-electric Future

General Motors Co. in Detroit on Tuesday took two steps to expand its sales of electric vehicles.
Hertz has agreed to buy 175,000 electric vehicles from GM over the next five years. // Courtesy of Hertz
Hertz has agreed to buy 175,000 electric vehicles from GM over the next five years. // Courtesy of Hertz

General Motors Co. in Detroit on Tuesday took two steps to expand its sales of electric vehicles.

First, Florida-based rental car giant Hertz and GM announced an agreement in which Hertz plans to order up to 175,000 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and BrightDrop EVs over the next five years.

Next, the automaker and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a set of recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that seek to accelerate a zero-emissions, all-electric future for passenger vehicles in model year 2027 and beyond.

Hertz and GM say they believe their plan is the largest expansion of EVs among fleet customers and the broadest because it spans a wide range of vehicle categories and price points — from compact and midsize SUVs to pickups, luxury vehicles, and more.

The agreement will encompass electric vehicle deliveries through 2027 as Hertz increases the EV component of its fleet and GM accelerates production of EVs broadly. Over this period, Hertz estimates that its customers could travel more than 8 billion miles in these EVs, saving approximately 1.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions compared to similar gasoline-powered vehicles traveling such a distance.

“It’s exciting that two iconic American companies that have shaped the evolution of transportation for more than a century are coming together to redefine the future of mobility in the 21st century,” says Stephen Scherr, CEO of Hertz. “We are thrilled to partner with GM on this initiative, which will dramatically expand our EV offering to Hertz customers, including leisure and business travelers, rideshare drivers and corporates.”

Mary Barra, chair and CEO of GM, says: “Our work with Hertz is a huge step forward for emissions reduction and EV adoption that will help create thousands of new EV customers for GM. With the vehicle choice, technology, and driving range we’re delivering, I’m confident that each rental experience will further increase purchase consideration for our products and drive growth for our company.”

Hertz’s current goal is for one-quarter of its fleet to be electric by the end of 2024. It expects to begin taking delivery of Chevrolet Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs in the first quarter of next year.

The recommendations to the EPA were jointly developed by GM and EDF to support the next tier of the agency’s clean car standards. GM and EDF encourage EPA to establish standards aimed at ensuring that at least 50 percent of new vehicles sold by 2030 are zero emitting, while achieving at least a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in model year 2030, and dramatically reducing nitrogen oxides and particulates, consistent with eliminating tailpipe pollution from new passenger vehicles by 2035.

“General Motors has the ultimate goal of eliminating tailpipe emissions from new light duty vehicles by 2035,” Barra says. “As new standards are being developed, we are pleased to join the Environmental Defense Fund to provide recommendations that support accelerated adoption of electric vehicles to put us on the path toward that goal.”

Fred Krupp, president of the EDF, says: “GM and EDF are joining together to advocate for EPA standards that will move America to zero pollution from new cars and SUVs by 2035. That will mean heathier communities, a safer climate for all, and turbocharging U.S. manufacturing and jobs.”

The recommendations for EPA Tier 4 standards for model year 2027 and later vehicles are as follows:

Standards should achieve protective, science-based emission reductions reflecting the availability of zero-emitting vehicle technology. Standards should help to ensure at least 50 percent of new vehicles sold by 2030 are zero-emissions vehicles and be consistent with eliminating tailpipe pollution from new passenger vehicles by 2035. Standards should also encompass class 2b and 3 vehicles, consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order. New light-duty vehicle standards along these lines should achieve at least a fleetwide 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in model year 2030, compared to model year 2021.

Standards should be proposed this year and adopted next year, providing stability and certainty for manufacturers beyond 2030. Standards should be proposed in the fall of 2022 and finalized in the fall of 2023. Standards should extend until at least 2032 and EPA should consider adoption through 2035, securing deep pollution reductions and providing a stable investment signal and regulatory certainty for manufacturers.

Standards should be designed in a manner consistent with EPA’s long-standing regulation of emissions from new motor vehicles. Standards should be multipollutant, reflecting the ability of zero-emissions vehicles to deliver reductions in greenhouses gases, nitrogen oxides and particles. Standards should be performance-based and build from EPA’s existing and long-standing approach to regulate pollution from automobiles, including assigning zero emissions to vehicles that have no tailpipe emissions. Designing standards in this manner will likewise help to support their timely adoption and durability.

Standards should be designed to enhance equity. Standards should be designed to ensure the benefits of pollution reductions are shared equitably and support those underserved and socially vulnerable communities disproportionately impacted by climate change. Standards must also ensure that greater adoption of zero-emissions vehicles does not interfere with further per-vehicle emission reductions from new internal combustion engine vehicles.

Standards should incorporate an innovation opt-in compliance pathway for multipollutant reductions. A voluntary, transparent, and enforceable opt-in pathway for innovative manufacturers could accelerate deployment of new zero-emissions vehicles even more rapidly while rewarding leadership, providing stability for major investments, and ensuring durable outcomes in reducing climate and air pollution.

Complementary public and equitable investments. GM and EDF are committed to collaborating on national and state manufacturing, consumer, infrastructure, equity and worker training investments such as the incentives in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation and Inflation Reduction Act supporting the transition to zero-emitting vehicles and working with key policymakers to mobilize such incentives. GM and EDF are collaborating to support actions that will help ensure zero-emitting vehicle goals are met, and that the infrastructure and the health and economic benefits of this transition are fully available and accessible to all. GM and EDF also recognize the importance of building sustainable, just, and socially responsible supply chains to meet these goals.

Coordination. President Biden’s Executive Order on Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks recognizes the importance of coordination, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to draw on the expertise of various agencies and leading states. Coordination between EPA and DOT in carrying out their respective rulemaking responsibilities can help to accelerate innovation and manufacturing in the automotive sector, strengthen the domestic supply chain and grow jobs that provide good pay and benefits. By avoiding interference between the EPA and DOT programs, the nation’s resources can be focused on eliminating tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions and all tailpipe pollution through an affordable ZEV fleet that will achieve healthier air and help mitigate climate change, save drivers money at the gas pump, strengthen energy security, and provide clarity and coordination in achieving President Biden’s goals for our nation.