GM’s Charlie Wilson Was Right: Stronger Regulations Can Help U.S. Automakers

Charlie Wilson had been the president and CEO of General Motors before being nominated to become secretary of defense by Dwight Eisenhower. During his Senate confirmation hearings, he controversially said, “For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”

And he was right.

While car companies aren’t necessarily the most progressive when it comes to things that might have the slightest possibility of political blowback, General Motors should be credited for doing something absolutely forthright in this regard with its announcement that it wants the federal U.S. government not to squash the California Air Resources Board’s emissions requirements but to actually create a 50-state “National Zero Emissions Vehicle” program that, in the words of Mark Reuss, executive vice president and president, Global Product Group and Cadillac, “will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emission future.”

Filing comments to the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks is one thing.

But a graphic the company developed for this announcement — shown above — is something else entirely, something that is absolutely credible, creative and clever. There is a photo of a Chevrolet Bolt EV driving along a highway, which seems to be in Marin County (based on the blurred San Francisco skyline in the background).

Text on the photo states: “It’s Time for American Leadership in Zero Emissions Vehicles.”

It seems to say, in effect, “If we want to make America great again, then we’re going to do it by leading in technology, not by retreating behind weakened regulations.”

General Motors understands that the auto market is globally competitive, and if U.S.-based companies are going to be in the game, then they’d better be able to out-innovate the companies based elsewhere, where emissions and economy standards are not being weakened.

Anthony Bunch Author

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