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GM investors pressuring automaker to push back on Trump admin’s fuel economy rollback plan

As the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration prepare to unveil the planned rollback of fuel economy standards soon, major investors in auto companies are the latest group to publicly voice their concerns about the proposal.

GM investors are specifically speaking out about the proposed rollback, as Climatewire reports. While 17 automakers recently sent a letter asking to stop the fuel economy freeze, some believe that it doesn’t go far enough.

Jamie Bonham is the manager of corporate engagement at NEI Investments — a company that owns 167,000 shares in GM (currently about $8.5 million), and while he appreciates the company’s involvement in signing the letter, he told Climatewire more can be done:

“….investors would expect that the company do more than send a letter. I want to see a real dedicated effort … to engage the Trump administration and impress upon it the dire consequences of the path they are heading down.”

Bonham specifically recommended that GM attempt to bring Trump’s administration and California back to the negotiating table regarding fuel economy standards. (As a former senior EPA official said, “Trump is right now, but California is forever.”)

Mary Minette of Mercy Investment Services — a company that owns more than 20,000 shares in GM — spoke in similar terms:

“We’re hoping that they will start working a little more proactively, particularly with California directly, because they have not been as active as some of the other automakers.”

Automakers are now very worried about the problems that may arise from a “split market” between states such like California, and others with less strict fuel economy standards. Though GM and others seem to see the error of their ways, it may be too late. As White House spokesman Judd Deere told E&E News in a statement,

“As we acknowledged earlier this year, [the California Air Resources Board] failed to put forward a productive alternative, and we are moving forward to finalize a rule with the goal of promoting safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles.”

Of course, the new rule won’t promote cleaner vehicles, but that’s what the EPA is selling.

GM is still considering a number of electric vehicles in the coming years, with a new report today claiming the automaker is even thinking about making an electric Hummer.

Electrek’s Take

The automakers had an “uh-oh” moment, and now investors are pushing for more action. And GM is just one manufacturer — who knows how much pressure other carmakers are feeling at the moment, as investors look to take stronger stances on climate and avoid the dreaded “split market.”

Though the administration doesn’t look to budge, it doesn’t appear this quandary is near its end. And it can’t be said often enough — the carmakers got themselves into this mess.

One also wonders how GM’s investors feel about the company’s vague, lackadaisical stance on making electric pickup trucks, as well.

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