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Polling Reveals GM Customers Want Cleaner Cars

Before closing in 2019, General Motors' Lordstown, Ohio, plant produced the fuel-efficient Chevy Cruze. (InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr)
Before closing in 2019, General Motors' Lordstown, Ohio, plant produced the fuel-efficient Chevy Cruze. (InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr)
April 21, 2020

COLUMBUS, OH -- A new poll suggests automakers in Ohio and other states would be wise to accelerate investment in clean-car technology.

A survey of General Motors vehicle owners found the company's favorability with customers dropped from 93% to 44% after vehicle owners learned about GM's failure to support vehicle pollution standards.

Pollster Matt George said customers expressed lower opinions of the company when they learned of GM's involvement in a lawsuit over states' rights to set stricter tailpipe standards.

"We also gave information about how GM has laid off nearly 15,000 American workers - specifically in Lordstown, Ohio, they closed the entire plant," George said. "This plant produced the Chevy Cruze, which was one of GM's most fuel-efficient vehicles."

More than 1,000 workers lost their jobs when the plant closed, and the company cited a changing consumer climate. George noted the company posted a nearly $3 billion profit in the same quarter.

The poll also found 3 in 4 GM owners said they would have a better opinion of the automaker if the company reversed course and opposed the Trump administration's move to revoke California's stricter emission standards.

A 2018 Automotive Trends report ranked GM third-to-last among car manufacturers in both fuel efficiency and emissions metrics between 2013 and 2018. George said that reveals a pattern of questionable corporate behavior.

"They have in some sense broken a promise to consumers after their bailout in 2009 when they said that they would create more fuel-efficient vehicles," he said. "Once their consumers find that hasn't really happened, they're much less likely to purchase a GM vehicle in the future."

George noted the drop in customer loyalty could be felt at the dealership level in lost sales. A similar poll of Toyota owners earlier this year found the company's favorability fell by about one-third as a result of its failure to support strong vehicle-pollution standards.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH