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  1. John Goreham Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com 3-18-2019 If you love GM trucks, and particularly ones with big engines you are in good company here. The GM-Trucks.com staff own big trucks. We also test them. In two of our driveways this week, are 2019 model year V8-equipped pickups. We also report on and test EVs from GM and other automakers. We report the news as it comes, but we hope for good news from GM. When GM recently announced it was closing factories on unprofitable cars, resulting in the loss of jobs for workers in four U.S. states and one in Canada, we had a hard time finding the good. However, along with that announcement, GM made it clear that the future it sees involves EVs and that the company was making changes to free up funds to double its EV efforts. 'Who cares, we love trucks," would be an easy way to greet that news. But maybe there is a reason to cheer for GM's EVs. The EPA isn't going away. It may over-reach at times, but truck lovers also love the outdoors and the EPA helps keep our air, land, and water clean. We watch the EPA news closely at GM-Trucks.com. This week, the agency released its most recent report on the auto industry and the EPA's efforts to boost fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, particularly greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report has final data on model year 2017 vehicles and the information is through October of 2018. The green vehicle segment moves fast, and a lot has changed since then, but GM was kicking ass in model year 2017. GM sold the most electric vehicles in model year 2017 and it was not even a close race. Sure, we hear Tesla talk the talk all the time, but GM walks the walk, and has for a decade. That matters because the EPA requires automakers to meet fleet-wide goals for its emissions. Despite GM's great EV sales results, the company was just even with regard to GHG credits. This is a sort of cap and trade system that the EPA has forced upon automakers to ensure they meet their own fleet goals. Each fleet has its own goals based on its own mix of vehicles. GM's mix is heavily skewed toward trucks with hard-to-improve upon fuel efficiency. Things like stop-start, carbon fiber beds, aluminum hoods, cylinder deactivation, high-efficiency alternators and AC systems, solar reducing glass, all are now in use on the GM truck fleet. Yet, GM is still barely keeping up with its GHG targets. If GM is going to continue affordably producing gas and diesel pickup trucks by the hundreds of thousands, the company desperately needs some fuel efficiency gains in the rest of the fleet. And GM's mainstream cars sales are in decline. GM had a great fix for the game EPA was playing. GM produced a lot of large vehicles categorized as "alternative fuel vehicles." You might own one. If it says "Flex Fuel" on your vehicle you do. The idea was that these would burn fuel from crops. Originally, EPA allowed each to be credited as if the truck was run 100% on ethanol-based fuels. That helped GM quite a bit with its scores on the EPA system. However, GM, the EPA, and everyone reading this story knows that only a small fraction of those vehicles ever saw an ethanol E85 pump. Since 2015, the EPA now estimates the real usage and the automakers are out of luck because it guesstimates about 14% of those flex-fuel vehicles were running on alcohol. The EPA says that the result is, "FFVs can still represent a CO2 emissions benefit, and can help to lower the emissions of a manufacturer’s fleet, but the overall impact is significantly diminished." GM's EV sales in model year 2017 were impressive, but they have since declined. GM also just killed off its top-selling EV, the Volt EREV. In order to stay ahead of the fuel efficiency mandates coming from our government, and to avoid costly penalties that will raise the cost of trucks, GM is in need of a hail-Mary pass. That pass is battery-electric cars on a scale way beyond its past production and way beyond what even Tesla has achieved recently. Read the full EPA report here (if you have trouble sleeping). Even a quick scan shows that without a high volume fleet of hybrids, EVs, or alternative fuel vehicles GM is in trouble. The good news is that GM has been a leader in EVs and is taking big steps and making hard decisions to keep its EV future bright. So, if you love big trucks, be sure to root for GM's EV fleet as it rolls along in the coming years.
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