2013 Sustainability Report: Transforming Transportation

May 19, 2014 5:30 PM ET


More than a hundred years ago, pioneers like Ransom Olds and Billy Durant helped develop and mass-produce an invention that would define the century: the automobile.

The automobile revolutionized personal mobility, giving people the freedom to travel across great distances whenever and wherever they chose. Mass production of the automobile helped build the American middle class. Put simply, it transformed 20th century transportation.

So what will transform transportation in the 21st century as the world faces all-new challenges like climate change, congestion and energy security?

How can we drive change in an industry that is unsustainable in its current form, while maintaining our focus on the customers who drive our products?

How can we improve our manufacturing process to increase efficiency in our vehicles and the plants the produce them?

What role can technology play in addressing modern challenges like climate change and urban congestion?

How can we benefit our bottom-line while keeping the environment top-of-mind?

With our customer-driven-sustainability mindset at GM, these are just some of the questions we ask. And we address these and many more in our 2013 sustainability report.

The report outlines how we’re restructuring our global portfolio to make vehicles more efficient, rethinking manufacturing and collaborating with unlikely partners for even greater systemic change.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • We are progressing in all of our product commitments in fuel economy, carbon emissions and electrification, and we announced a new commitment to target emissions reduction of our China vehicle fleet, our biggest market.
  • We now have 153,034 electrified vehicles on the road as of 2013, moving along our path to reach 500,000 by 2017. The launch of the Chevrolet Spark EV and the Cadillac ELR is helping boost the EV market, as well as the continued success of the Opel Ampera in Europe, the Chevrolet Volt, and the Chevrolet Springo EV in China.
  • We are satisfying customer needs for connectivity while serving the greater good. People can use OnStar route optimization to ease congestion and receive real-time feedback on how to drive more efficiently. And we continue to work toward a vision for connected vehicles that help anticipate and avoid crashes.
  • We’re changing how cars are made. We completed a lifecycle analysis to better understand the greenhouse gas impacts of our products throughout the supply chain to better target broader improvements, and are removing coal-fired boilers and using more renewable energy throughout our operations.
  • We met commitments for a 10 percent total waste reduction, 10 percent volatile organic compound emissions reduction and 25 non-manufacturing landfill-free facilities seven years ahead of schedule. We are on track to meet the rest of our 2020 global manufacturing commitments in areas such as energy, carbon and water reduction, as well.
  • We’re collaborating with competitors like Honda on fuel cell development and various NGOs to create a greener economy and conserve the resources vital to our industry. Groups like the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and the BlueGreen Alliance are stakeholders providing regular feedback to us.

You can’t transform an industry overnight. It requires constant commitment, effort and collaboration. But we’re making progress.

What do you think transportation will look like in the 21st century?

To view our interactive 2013 sustainability report, visit www.gmsustainability.com.