General Motors Co. spent 29 percent less lobbying the federal government in the third quarter this year than last, but it still spent $1.78 million to influence legislators and agencies on gas mileage and pollution regulations, electric vehicle infrastructure funding, distracted driving regulations and other issues.
The Detroit company is still 26.5 percent owned by the government, which gave GM $49.5 billion in aid to save it from the auction house. The government is waiting to sell its remaining 500 million shares until the stock market recovers.
The automaker spent $2.49 million on lobbying in last year's third quarter and $1.94 million in the second quarter of this year.
GM had a dozen lobbyists dealing with Congress, the White House and federal agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Energy, Defense, Transportation and State departments; and other parts of the government.
GM lobbied Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, NHTSA and the Obama administration on gas mileage and greenhouse gas emissions regulations for the years 2017 through 2025.
Earlier this month, the administration released regulations that will nearly double fuel economy standards for cars and pickup trucks by 2025. The plan is likely to cost automakers $157 billion, but it will save drivers billions more at the pump. The administration and 13 major automakers agreed on the standards in July.
Cars and trucks by 2025 must average 54.5 miles per gallon, about twice the average gas mileage of vehicles on the road today. The changes required to meet the targets will raise the average cost of a car by about $2,000. Administration officials say consumers will pocket up to $4,400 in fuel cost savings over the lifetime of a vehicle purchased in 2025.
GM also lobbied the Defense Department on its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle program, NHTSA on distracted driving and motor vehicle safety regulations, and the Energy Department and Congress over research funding for ethanol, fuel cell and plug-in electric vehicles. It also lobbied on measures to set up electric vehicle recharging stations, and it lobbied on measures to raise premiums that companies must pay to the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
GM is currently selling the Chevrolet Volt, a rechargeable electric car that can go 35 miles on battery power before a gas generator kicks in to keep it moving. The company plans several other electric-powered models in the future. Many of its models also are capable of running on gasoline or E85 ethanol, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
The company lobbied on corporate alternative minimum tax credits, an excise tax on rental car purchases, border trade issues and U.S.-China relations. GM has significant joint ventures in China. It sells about as many vehicles there as it does in the U.S.
GM disclosed its spending in a report filed with the House Clerk's office on Oct. 20. Lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches of government under a federal law enacted in 1995.