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GM fined $146 million as older vehicles violated emission norms

Robert Besser
8 Jul 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.: General Motors will pay nearly $146 million in penalties to the federal government due to 5.9 million older vehicles not meeting emissions and fuel economy standards.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that GM vehicles from the 2012-2018 model years failed to comply with federal fuel economy requirements.

The penalty follows the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) findings that GM pickup trucks and SUVs emit over 10 percent more carbon dioxide than GM's compliance testing initially reported.

The EPA noted that these vehicles, which consume at least 10 percent more fuel than their window stickers indicate, will remain on the road without modifications to their mileage labels.

"Our investigation has achieved accountability and upholds an important program that's reducing air pollution and protecting communities across the country," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

GM, however, maintains that it complies with all regulations and is not admitting any wrongdoing or violations of the Clean Air Act.

GM spokesperson Bill Grotz attributed the issue to a test procedure change introduced by the EPA in 2016.

"We believe this voluntary action is the best course to resolve the outstanding issues with the federal government," he said.

The affected vehicles include approximately 4.6 million full-size pickups and SUVs, such as the Chevy Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Silverado, and about 1.3 million midsize SUVs. Around 40 variations of GM vehicles are involved.

As part of the settlement, GM will forfeit credits used to meet fleet-wide greenhouse gas emissions standards, with the total cost to resolve the matter expected to be $490 million.

EPA noted that formal determinations on the excess emissions' causes were unnecessary due to GM's agreement to address the issue.

However, David Cooke, senior vehicles analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, questioned how GM could overlook a more than 10 percent discrepancy in emissions. "You don't just make a more than 10% rounding error," he said.

Dan Becker from the Center for Biological Diversity criticized GM's violations, underscoring the need for stringent pollution regulations.

Historically, similar violations have led to substantial penalties and Justice Department involvement. For instance, Hyundai and Kia faced penalties for overstating gas mileage on vehicle stickers, resulting in a $100 million civil penalty.

In another case, Volkswagen admitted to intentionally rigging vehicles to defeat emissions tests, costing the company over $30 billion and resulting in prison sentences for executives.

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