According to an article in my newspaper today, written by Louis Hansen of the Bay Area News Group
, VW has proposed an $800 million settlement with the state of California to atone for their diesel-engine emission-cheating scandal. As part of the settlement, VW plans to spend billions in the U.S. to build charging stations and to promote electric vehicle use across the country.
In California, VW agreed to spend $1.2 billion through two separate programs: $381 million for pollution mitigation and $800 million in an infrastructure trust fund. There is currently (not surprisingly) an argument over how those funds will be spent between environmentalists, lawmakers and EV charging companies. Opponents of building charging stations along freeways and well traveled highways claim that the deal could dampen competition in the charging station market and ignores poor communities most affected by air pollution.
VW proposes to allocate the funds in $200 million, 30-month phases over the next 10 years. The first phase would spend about $120 million to build charging stations, $45 million for community facilities and $75 million for a high-speed highway network throughout the state. The state wants to see 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025. (Each paying an additional $100 per year surcharge over ICE vehicle yearly licensing fees, of course.
Interestingly, ChargePoint is opposed to the proposal as they feel that the VW charging station plan would "drown out all other participants in the ZEV infrastructure market through enormous spending." ChargePoint wants the state to earmark at least 35% of the investment, above the current 25% goal, to disadvantaged communities. ChargePoint says that VW plans to build mostly "high speed charging stations at highway exits rather than community charging stations and workplaces, multifamily housing, and retail stores." (I would argue that those locations are not likely to generate very much usage and therefore would not be very profitable, compared with VW's plans.) Various state legislators and members of Congress, as well as the Central California Environmental Justice Network say that many poor, rural communities have no charging stations, discouraging residents from buying green cars.