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GM Gets EPA Nod for Building the Most Greenwashed Large SUVs on the Market

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The Texas plant producing Common Motors’ physique-on-body SUVs is clear and inexperienced, even when the automobiles it builds are something however Prius-like.

In August, the forty three generators of Southern Energy’s 148 MW Cactus Flats Wind Facility turned operational in Concho County, Texas. GM, together with Common Mills (the tastier GM) each have contracts to buy energy from the facility — in GM’s case, some 50 MW of it per yr. Meaning it could actually now declare its Arlington, Texas meeting plant is one hundred pc powered by renewable power. The Environmental Safety Company simply positioned GM at No. seventy six on its record of the nation’s largest inexperienced energy customers.

It’s superb the sort of tree-hugging press one can get for a manufacturing unit that primarily builds dinosaurs.

Whereas it’s straightforward to completely give up to cynicism on the subject of environmental PR efforts, GM deserves kudos for going inexperienced on the manufacturing aspect of issues. The facility purchased from Cactus Flats, plus that of one other wind farm, is sufficient to hold the lights on and the meeting line buzzing at sixteen GM amenities throughout Texas and the U.S. South. It’s a part of a pledge to make the firm’s amenities one hundred pc inexperienced by 2050.

However at Arlington, there’s a weird juxtaposition. Of the fashions constructed there — the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade, the variety of variants discovered with a hybrid drivetrain quantity zero. That very same determine may be utilized to automobiles bought and not using a V8 engine beneath the hood. GM cancelled the almost invisible hybrid variations of its full-size SUVs half a decade in the past. They weren’t missed. At present, the highest mixed fuel financial system out there from an Arlington-produced vehicle is eighteen mpg. Curb weights don’t dip under 5,000 kilos, not to mention four,000.

Does the incontrovertible fact that these V8-powered behemoths seem in environmentalists’ nightmares take away from planet-saving efforts happening in the vehicle’s periphery? Relies upon on who you ask.

If GM informed the inexperienced motion to shove it and purchased energy straight from the Texas grid, it might be serving to maintain a era panorama the place almost half of energy comes from coal, some forty % of it being excessive-polluting lignite. With this transfer, the huge, brawny SUVs People clearly love have a pleasant, protecting inexperienced blanket to wrap themselves in. Positive, the fashions’ reputation and beneficiant engine displacement contributes to a national fleet fuel financial system common that hasn’t budged in years, however at the finish of the day, that’s the shoppers’ fault. Until you’re Invoice de Blasio, there’s all the time a cleaner various to your present journey.

GM didn’t have to do that, so it may be seen as admirable environmental penance. To different eyes, it’s purely cynical greenwashing — a PR answer that’s far cheaper than redesigning the present giant SUVs with lighter frames and our bodies, downsized engines, and MSRP-climbing hybridization. No matter your view, GM will ultimately should revamp its BOF household to remain forward of rival Ford. A restyling is due for 2020.

[Image: General Motors]

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