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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/05/01/MT8510FEPF.DTL&hw

GM wants to go green, CEO says in S.F. speech

General Motors, the nation's largest automaker, is working to reinvent itself as a green company but still opposes California's efforts to set its own global warming emissions standards for cars, Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said Thursday in San Francisco.

In a speech before the Commonwealth Club, Wagoner touted his company's efforts to design and sell cars powered by electricity or alternative fuels.
GM will have eight different hybrid vehicles on the market by the end of the year and plans to start selling its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid in 2010, he said. The company is testing sport utility vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel cells. And Thursday morning, before Wagoner's speech, GM announced that it would invest in a cellulosic ethanol startup trying to make fuel from nongrain plants.

"Going forward, the auto industry can no longer rely almost exclusively on oil," Wagoner said.

But on some issues, he said, GM and California still don't see eye to eye.
California is locked in a bitter fight with the Bush administration over the state's attempts to set its own limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars, limits that would force automakers to dramatically increase the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. The automakers oppose letting states set such limits, arguing that it would create a patchwork of conflicting regulations throughout the country.

Wagoner repeated that position Thursday, saying the entire country should stick with the new fuel mileage standard created by Congress and President Bush last year. That standard requires an increase in fuel economy to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, far less than the 44 miles per gallon that California officials want.

"By fragmenting our efforts, we will only make it that much harder to achieve the results we all want to see," he said. Later, he added, "If we think it's something we just can't do, we have to say it."

Earlier in the day, GM announced that it would invest in ethanol start-up Mascoma Corp., which is based in Boston and funded by several Silicon Valley venture capital firms. GM invested in another biofuel company, Coskata Inc. of Warrenville, Ill., in January.

GM and Mascoma did not reveal the size of the automaker's investment.
"We want to learn as much about the opportunities in cellulosic ethanol as we can," Wagoner said, at a press conference after his speech. "Just to be clear, what we have no interest in is becoming a fuel producer. ... But we do have an interest in seeing cellulosic ethanol develop."

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Also... Watch an 11 minute video interview with ABC 7 News in San Francisco.

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/media?id=5945934
 

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Well something has to be done. but GM needs less than 44mpg as a 2020 target so they can keep profitable muscle cas and trucks. i agree that comuter cars should reach 44+ MPG by 2020. but being rid of a foreign oil dependentcy ASAP would be great.
 

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"Just to be clear, what we have no interest in is becoming a fuel producer. ... But we do have an interest in seeing cellulosic ethanol develop."
Why not? It's pretty obvious fuel producing is a money maker.
 

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he may want to be "Green" but he will always be "Red" Ink Rick!
 

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That comment about not being a fuel producer should be a bit of a midsirection..I hope. Obviously there is a lot of money available for whoever is able to dominate the fuel markets. Hopefully they mean, "We have no interest in becoming a fuel producer, but will have large minority stakes in alternative fuel producing corporations and partner with them so that we will be one of their main fuel distributors through our vast dealership network."

I can understand being apprehensive about diversifying the portfolio to non-core product after spending lots of time and money to re-focus on the core of their business. It's good though that he's there trying to play both sides of the game, and show that they are trying to compromise as best as possible on the issue.
 

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Instead of California trying to play games with averages, etc...

Why don't they just put a limit on gas mileage for vehicles that can be owned in California. I am tired of them trying to tell average joe he has to drive a Prius, but BMW gets a pass if you have 70K to spend.

Want to see the true extent of California's environmental movement, try to take away the guzzlers from California citizens. Tell them no more Tundra unless its a V6. No M anything. AMG is history. Oh yeah, and anything with a Ferarri badge - not in California.

What will happen is revolt - and what the world will witness is California has a whole lot of average americans, and a few more radicals than other states.

Until those with money and power lead by example, its all hype and will go nowhere.
 

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Wagoner repeated that position Thursday, saying the entire country should stick with the new fuel mileage standard created by Congress and President Bush last year. That standard requires an increase in fuel economy to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, far less than the 44 miles per gallon that California officials want.

"By fragmenting our efforts, we will only make it that much harder to achieve the results we all want to see," he said. Later, he added, "If we think it's something we just can't do, we have to say it."
Absolutely agree with him on this, fuel economy standards should be a national standard not a state by state. It doesn't matter which automaker we are talking about, set one standard they every adheres to, by all means you can go higher or go lower (and pay fines) but in the end there should only be one standard.

The last thing anyone needs is a state like California coming out with some pie in the sky numbers that are way out of line with every other state.


As to the investments in the cellulosic ethanol, being a fuel supplier is a non core business and probably best left to others, but that does not mean GM can't invest in companies to work towards improvements in fuel creation so that it does not affect food supplies etc. Moving away from fuel sources that affect fuel prices will help all of us regardless of whether or not we drive an e85 capable vehicle.

As is the case with all alternative fuels, we may end up with multiple types for an extended period of time prior to ending up with just one. If hydrogen is the magic fuel, there needs to be a period of time for the infrastructure to catch up at a national level before it truely becomes the fuel of the future.
 

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Well something has to be done. but GM needs less than 44mpg as a 2020 target so they can keep profitable muscle cas and trucks. i agree that comuter cars should reach 44+ MPG by 2020. but being rid of a foreign oil dependentcy ASAP would be great.
Or they could make the whole lineup more profitable so they didn't have to rely on muscle cars and trucks so much.
 

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Instead of California trying to play games with averages, etc...

Why don't they just put a limit on gas mileage for vehicles that can be owned in California. I am tired of them trying to tell average joe he has to drive a Prius, but BMW gets a pass if you have 70K to spend.

Want to see the true extent of California's environmental movement, try to take away the guzzlers from California citizens. Tell them no more Tundra unless its a V6. No M anything. AMG is history. Oh yeah, and anything with a Ferarri badge - not in California.

What will happen is revolt - and what the world will witness is California has a whole lot of average americans, and a few more radicals than other states.

Until those with money and power lead by example, its all hype and will go nowhere.
The reason that revolt hasn't happened is that it's not how CAFE works. CAFE only assesses fines to makers - it doesn't actually dictate what cars are made. High priced luxury vehicles don't all average 27.5mpg nor will they average 35mpg in 2020.
 

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California will end up raising their standards so high, all they'll have as options in 2020 is a Prius, Beat, and a Fit!!
Actually, unless Honda gets to work on this, the choices will be a Prius, a Prius, or, guess what, a Prius! Small doesn't always equal fuel efficient, as the smart well proves. More likely it will be a Prius, a Volt, or a CR-Z.
 

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California will end up raising their standards so high, all they'll have as options in 2020 is a Prius, Beat, and a Fit!!
So are you saying that foreign auto makers are the only ones CAPABLE of meeting HIGHER STANDARDS?

Gee imagine - An American manufacturer setting the most stringent American standards as a goal. What a radical idea!
 

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All California has to do is charge registration "fees" (call it a fee and it passes on a simple majority vote) based on CO2 emissions. The problem is that no politician in California has the guts to legislate, it's easier to mandate or sue to get the courts to mandate. That way there is no political fallout like Gray Davis's failure.
 
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