Even though unemployment is low, the economy is growing and U.S. auto sales are near historic highs, General Motors is cutting thousands of jobs in a major restructuring aimed at generating cash to spend on innovation. It's the new reality for automakers that are faced with the present cost of designing gas-powered cars and trucks that appeal to buyers now while at the same time preparing for a future world of electric and autonomous vehicles.
The National Zero Emissions Vehicle Program endorsed by GM on Friday would gradually increase the percentage of electric vehicles manufacturers would have to make for their fleet each year starting at 7 percent in 2021 and rising to 25 percent by 2030.
In an industry of closely guarded business strategies and technical development, it is relatively rare for two automakers, especially mainstream ones like GM and Ford, to collaborate. But the two have a technical track record, most recently around a pair of fuel-saving transmissions, and often walk in lockstep around major community projects and charitable giving in metropolitan Detroit.