Carmakers are trying to figure out how to respond to G.M.’s plan to move to electric cars.

Automakers are searching for the right response to General Motors’s announcement that it will aim to sell only zero-emission cars and trucks by 2035.

The reaction from automakers and oil and gas companies has so far been muted. But Washington is abuzz with corporate lobbyists complaining in private about what they saw as a calculated move to burnish the reputations of G.M. and its chief executive, Mary T Barra, even as the industry negotiates a new fuel-economy deal with the Biden administration, Neal E. Boudette and Coral Davenport report for The New York Times.

No other large automakers have set a target date for selling only electric vehicles, but many have moved in that direction.

Ford is spending billions to introduce battery-powered models. Customer deliveries of the first of them, the Mustang Mach E sport utility vehicle, started last month.

Volkswagen said last year that it planned to spend 73 billion euros, or $88 billion, on electric vehicles over the next five years.

The industry is afraid of losing market share to Tesla, the dominant electric carmaker, which is growing rapidly. Wall Street values Tesla at about $752 billion, about 10 times as much as G.M. Several start-ups, like Rivian and Lucid Motors, are hoping to follow Tesla’s footsteps this year.

And China’s decision late last year to require that most vehicles sold there be electric by 2035 is also critical because G.M. sells more cars in that country through its joint ventures than in the United States. And Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands have said they will ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2030.

Broadly, of course, the industry had been quietly gearing up for months for a possible change in the White House. Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan and a former G.M. executive, said in an interview, “I had been saying to all the autos: ‘When Joe Biden gets elected, your world will turn upside down. You’ve got to be at the table or else this thing gets jammed down your throat.’”

A senior G.M. executive, Dane Parker, said the company was not seeking to curry favor with the new administration. Its decision, he said, was based on a fundamental, dollars-and-cents analysis of where the auto industry is headed and the cars that it expects to become best sellers in the future.

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