At a Crossroads: General Motors and the Trump Administration's Fuel Economy Standards

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: April 29, 2019
Length: 22 pages
Product ID#: 1-453-703

Core Disciplines: Communications, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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This case focuses on the introduction of the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule in 2018 and General Motors’ (GM’s) challenge regarding how to best respond during the proposed rule’s public comment period. GM, a company committed to a vision of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion, can respond to the SAFE public comment period in one of four ways: support the new SAFE standards, favor maintaining the status quo Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, propose a National Zero Emission Vehicle (NZEV) program, or opt to say nothing. The case presents GM’s company history, the history of U.S. fuel economy standards, the electric vehicle market, and an overview of the stakeholder landscape surrounding this issue. Students will explore how sustainability, government, and business interconnect when making a policy recommendation that will not only affect GM’s business but also the trajectory of sustainability within the auto industry as a whole.


Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Explain the relationship between policy and business with regard to SAFE standards’ effects on the automobile market and how business can change policy and vice versa.
  • Describe stakeholder relationships and influence with regard to fuel economy standards, including what outcome each stakeholder might prefer.
  • Assess the benefits and drawbacks of proposing an alternative mandate based on the current state of the electric vehicle market.
  • Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of a NZEV mandate for each stakeholder, including General Motors.