Ten months ago we published our inaugural Sustainability Report, which detailed the wide-ranging actions General Motors is taking to improve the impact of our vehicles and our operations on the planet. In that short time, customer and regulatory demands for cleaner and more fuel-efficient transportation has made progress around the world.
For example, the U.S. corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) legislation finalized in August will require the real-world fuel economy of vehicles to roughly double, to meet a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025.
In addition, new cars and vans in the European Union must produce one-third less carbon dioxide within eight years under proposed new rules. And customer research in both regions shows that fuel economy now drives purchase consideration as much or more than quality.
It also has become clearer that reducing waste and increasing efficiency is good for the bottom line of the business.
GM has long recognized this convergence of customer, regulatory and business imperatives, and we are addressing them more aggressively than ever.
As a result, in March GM became the first U.S. automaker to sell 100,000 vehicles that get 30 mpg or more (EPA-estimated hwy mpg). We have more nameplates that achieve this standard than ever before, and we have many more new nameplates and powertrain options on the way that will do even better, including the Chevrolet Cruze diesel, the Opel Adam, the Buick Encore compact crossover, and the Chevrolet Impala Eco, which uses our eAssist powertrain.
Another key factor for success has been leveraging investments in sustainable innovation like the Chevrolet Volt — currently the world’s best-selling plug-in vehicle — and core technologies that will drive even higher-volume electrification of automobiles by expanding sales of the Chevrolet Volt to China and Australia and with new vehicles such as the Chevrolet Impala with eAssist, Chevrolet Spark EV, Cadillac ELR, and Opel Ampera in Europe.
Consider that GM was the first automaker to build battery packs in the United States, and next year we will become the first to build electric motors. We have also gained extensive expertise in power controls, engine stop-start systems, regenerative braking and other technologies through high-volume production of the Volt and Ampera, and eAssist vehicles such as the Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu.
Each of these models underscores our belief that the most significant fuel economy gains are achieved when you offer consumers fuel-efficient vehicles that they love to drive, that meet their needs and fit their lifestyle. This is how you deliver real and sustainable change in our industry.
Beyond our products, we’ve also made measurable progress reducing our own environmental impact. We realized positive year-over-year gains against all nine of our 2020 environmental goals for plants and facilities. The U.S. EPA named GM an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year for our global progress in energy efficiency and 54 of our worldwide manufacturing plants met the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry to cut energy intensity by 10 percent within five years. GM has more facilities meeting this challenge than any other company and collectively, these GM facilities cut energy intensity more than 26 percent on average, removed 1.3 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and bring an energy cost savings to GM of $90 million.
In waste management, we crossed a major milestone when we announced our 100th landfill-free facility. For perspective, this means that a single 30 gallon household garbage bag represents more trash sent to a landfill than is produced by these 100 GM facilities combined.
It is particularly satisfying to report all of this progress was delivered while GM was solidly profitable and strengthening its balance sheet. GM, in fact, has now recorded 11 consecutive quarters of profitability — a first in more than a decade — and our corporate credit ratings are now just one step below investment grade.
As we pursue opportunities and address challenges around the world, we’re committed to a long-term focus that doesn’t take any shortcuts in safety, quality and environmental responsibility.
As a profitable business, we’re able to do more, not less; be proactive rather than reactive and maintain a long-term, as opposed to short-term, perspective.
This commitment is critical because the process of re-shaping our business, our brands and our culture is not only for our stakeholders today, but also for future generations of stakeholders.
We hope you find this interim update to our Sustainability Report useful. You can expect a new and even more comprehensive report next summer. Until then, and on behalf of the more than 200,000 GM employees around the world, thank you for your continued interest in GM and our quest to design, build and sell the world’s best cars in the most sustainable manner possible.
Daniel F. Akerson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer