General Motors (NYSE: GM) plans to do more than just applaud BP's introduction of low-sulfur gasoline into the oil company's Mid-Atlantic sales region -- the automaker will use the fuel in its own vehicle assembly plants.

As part of numerous partnering activities with BP, GM is going to use the low-sulfur gas in the mid-sized vans rolling off the line at the Baltimore Assembly Plant.

"Partnerships like this are essential to our ability to meet the expectations consumers are placing on the auto, energy and other industries to take better care of our environment," said Dennis Minano, GM vice president, environment & energy, and chief environmental officer. "GM can't do it alone; only through productive partnerships like this with BP can we move forward on cleaner fuels and even better emissions performance from today's very clean vehicles."

GM's Baltimore assembly facility will place more than 400,000 gallons of gasoline in the tanks of new vehicles produced there each year. The plant builds Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari passenger vans, recently cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as having the "best" fuel economy rankings within their vehicle classification for the 2001 model year.

"We are gratified by the decision to use BP's low sulfur gasoline as factory-fill at the GM Baltimore Assembly Plant," said Raymond Brasser, senior vice president of the BP Atlantic Business Unit. "This action shows that our voluntary step toward a cleaner environment is noticed and welcomed."

By introducing low-sulfur gasoline in its Mid-Atlantic sales region,
which includes the Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Richmond, Va., and Philadelphia metropolitan markets, BP will be contributing to a substantial reduction in vehicle emissions, including oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons, which contribute to ozone formation. Low-sulfur fuel allows catalytic converters to operate more efficiently to reduce these pollutants by as much as 98 percent.

The factory-fill program at GM's Baltimore Assembly Plant is just one of a number of business initiatives GM and BP are pursuing which are based on the shared value of environmental responsibility, Minano said. This relationship includes the use of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel from BP in hybrid electric transit buses featuring propulsion systems designed by GM's Allison Transmission Division in New York City and Southern California, as well as developing fuels and infrastructure for advanced automotive technology.

In particular, GM's development of more efficient lean burn direct- injection engines will require sulfur-free fuels. Such engines would give consumers a 10 percent increase in fuel economy. Very low-sulfur diesel fuel will also allow light-duty diesels to be fitted with the same sort of pollution controls now found on gasoline vehicles, dramatically decreasing particulate emissions, or soot, and other pollutants.

"It's especially impressive that BP will be offering this clean fuel in many markets across the country a full three years ahead of the EPA's proposed national mandate for sulfur reduction," said Minano. "Today's announcement is indicative of how business will be conducted in the future so that communities, business, and the environment will be winners."