General Motors has put a date on its worldwide change to an all-electric fleet of vehicles: 2035. The automaker had said the switch would be thrown at some point but had not said when. Chief executive Mary Barra announced the goal Thursday on social media, the Wall Street Journal reports. It would be a major U-turn for GM: Gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles produce 98% of its sales and all of its profit. The most profitable entries in GM's lineup are SUVs and large pickups, which are among the least fuel-efficient of its products. That's the imperative, the company said. "For General Motors, our most significant carbon impact comes from tailpipe emissions of the vehicles that we sell—in our case, it's 75 percent," Barra wrote, per CNBC. "That is why it is so important that we accelerate toward a future in which every vehicle we sell is a zero-emissions vehicle."
A lot would have to happen before the company abandons fossil fuels, and GM called the goal an "aspiration." That drew criticism from a Consumer Reports executive. "Strong aspirations are important and inspirational, but firm production plans and strong policies are what move the market and the climate," he said. Across the industry, electric vehicles account for less than 5% of sales. As always, high battery cost is a deterrent, but GM has hopes for its new technology, Ultium, that it says could cut that expense by 60% in a few years. But with tougher carbon emission standards on the way—GM set a date for being carbon-neutral in 2040—the company says this is the direction to take. "We know there are hurdles, we know there are technology challenges," GM's sustainability boss said Thursday, "but we're confident." (GM backed Biden on electric vehicles.)