GM Fined $146 Million After Millions Of Cars Failed Emissions Tests

Photo: R.J.Johnston/Toronto Star (Getty Images)
Photo: R.J.Johnston/Toronto Star (Getty Images)

Good morning! It’s Thursday, July 4, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Almost 6 Million GM Cars Released Excess Emissions

Emissions tests are coming back to bite almost every automaker, it seems. After Volkswagen faced the biggest scandal of the lot back in 2015, it’s since been followed by emissions issues at Toyota and now General Motors. Following a probe from the Environmental Protection Agency, GM is facing a multi-million-dollar fine after it was found that millions of its cars emitted greater emissions than declared.


After an in-depth investigation by the EPA, GM will now cough up $146 million in penalties and will forfeit emissions credits after 5.9 million vehicles were found to have released more pollution than the automaker reported, according to CBS News. As per the site:

The Environmental Protection Agency found certain 2012-2018 model year GM vehicles were emitting more than 10% higher carbon dioxide on average than first claimed in the company’s compliance reports, the EPA stated. The impacted vehicles include about 4.6 million full-size pickup and sport-utility vehicles and roughly 1.3 million mid-size SUVs, such as Chevrolet Equinox, Tahoe and Silverado models.

“EPA’s vehicle standards depend on strong oversight in order to deliver public health benefits in the real world,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in the statement. “Our investigation has achieved accountability and upholds an important program that’s reducing air pollution and protecting communities across the country.”

GM denied any wrongdoing and said it had complied with all pollution and mileage certification rules. “GM remains committed to reducing auto emissions and working toward achieving the administration’s fleet electrification goals,” the company said in a statement.

In addition to the fine, GM has also canceled 50 million metric tons of greenhouse gas credits from the EPA as well as roughly 30.6 million gas mileage credits from NHTSA.

The penalty follows another multi-million-dollar payment made by GM in 2023 after NHTSA found that the company had failed to meet targets for 2016 and 2017. However, it’s important to note that in both instances GM was not accused of using cheat devices similar to those used by VW in its emissions scandal.

2nd Gear: Volvo Deliveries Boosted By Electric EX30 Sales

The bulk of the world’s automakers revealed their sales earlier this week, with Fiat surprisingly coming out as the real winner and Tesla struggling to maintain momentum. Now, Volvo has followed suit to post positive sales for the latest quarter.

During the three month period to the end of June 2024, the Swedish automaker delivered more than 70,000 cars following an eight percent boost thanks to demand for its electric models, reports Reuters. The rollout of the new EX30 electric SUV has been attributed to much of the growth, as well as strong demand in Europe and Latin America. As Reuters explains:

Volvo Cars, which is majority-owned by China’s Geely Holding, said in a statement that sales of fully electric and plug-in hybrid models were up 41%, and also account for 48% of its global car sales.

“As June comes to a close, the sales figures for the month are proof of the successful steps we have taken toward our long-term strategic direction and the continued demand for our cars,” the company.

Sales in Europe, the biggest market for Volvo Cars, rose 34% in June to 36,474 year-on-year.

Despite widespread positives for the automaker in the three months to the end of June 2024, Volvo has also faced its fair share of struggles. Last week, the automaker revealed the EX30 had been hit with a myriad of software issues that was leading it to refund some sales.

On top of that, the rollout of its new flagship EV, the EX90, has been fraught with delays and the model is now not expected to hit production until the middle of this year.

3rd Gear: California’s EV Ban Faces Supreme Court Challenge

It’s no secret that if we don’t want to die in a fiery inferno one day soon, we need to take dramatic steps to cut global emissions. California was hoping to do this by banning the sale of gas-powered cars in the next decade, but that move is now facing increasing backlash and even a challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to a new report from Reuters, California’s ability to set its own emissions rules and environmental targets is coming under fire from a consortium of energy companies and other industry associations. Valero Energy Corp’s Diamond Alternative Energy and other plaintiffs have lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court arguing that the state operated as a “quasi-federal regulator on global climate change.” As Reuters explains:

The Diamond plaintiffs rely on the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in West Virginia v. EPA. That decision invoked the “major questions” doctrine, which requires explicit congressional authorization before regulators can take consequential actions on issues of vast economic, political and societal impact.

Plaintiffs in Tuesday’s filing also said California does not meet the legal requirement for “compelling and extraordinary” provisions that would justify a waiver.

“Climate change is not an ‘extraordinary’ condition within California” because it is global and not local, they said. California also does not need its own emissions standards to meet global climate change since its efforts would have no discernible effect on those conditions in the state, they added.

So let me get this straight, the energy supplier’s big argument against California banning the sale of gas-powered cars from 2035 is that the problems of climate change extend beyond the state. As such it should be stuck following the same outdated laws as the rest of us? Right.

4th Gear: Ineos Delays Its First EV Over Slow Demand

While energy companies fight to push back California’s switch to electric cars, one automaker in the UK has pushed its own EV targets back all by itself. Rugged SUV maker Ineos has just delayed the launch of its first electric vehicle as a result of lukewarm consumer demand for EVs, according to a report from Automotive News.

The Grenadier maker was set to add an electric vehicle to its lineup of rugged off-roaders in 2027 with the release of the battery-powered Fusilier. However, the automaker has now pushed that date back and is yet to announce a new timeline for its launch. As Automotive News explains:

Ineos Group CEO Jim Ratcliffe had outlined plans earlier this year to offer a battery-only version of the Fusilier and a range-extender option using a small gasoline engine.

“We are delaying the launch of the Ineos Fusilier for two reasons: reluctant consumer uptake of EVs, and industry uncertainty around tariffs, timings and taxation,” the company said in its emailed statement. “There needs to be long-term clarity from policymakers” to meet net zero targets.

The announcement comes as people in Ineos’ native UK head to the polls, with the outcome of the country’s general election set to determine emissions targets for the future. If the Labour party wins, a ban on gas-powered cars could still come into force in 2030, however other parties have softer targets for sales of EVs across the UK.

Reverse: 120 Million Miles Later

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