General Motors’ guiding principle in recent years has been CEO Mary Barra’s vision of “zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.” But in the grand scheme of things, such a world is far, far away, and has been received as little more than wide-eyed grandstanding.
And if the vision sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because GM’s thinking, and even the mantra itself, isn’t exactly new. Automotive News reported Monday that German auto supplier Continental rolled out a “Vision Zero” strategy 10 years ago. What is “Vision Zero”? “Zero Fatalities. Zero Injuries. Zero Accidents.”
Then in 2016, Volvo announced a similar declaration when it called for zero vehicle-related deaths in its cars by 2020 via “Vision 2020.”
Although GM’s mantra also includes the ideas of zero congestion and emissions, the motif is nothing new. And realistically, each vision is rather pie-in-the-sky. To fully eliminate vehicle fatalities, governments would need to wipe every human driver off of the streets, and then all of the technology that contributes to the cause of zero fatalities would have to work flawlessly, all the time. And that’s not happening anytime soon.
To achieve zero emissions, consumers would need an epiphany to ditch big V8-powered trucks and SUVs and opt for fuel-cell and battery-electric powered cars. The market for said vehicles is a sliver of new-vehicle sales in North America. Even China still buys more gasoline-powered cars than it does “new-energy vehicles.” And the Chevrolet Silverado, GM’s moneymaker, isn’t dropping the internal-combustion engine in the near future.
Visions may guide, but reality often paints a much different picture.