Sacramento Scores Big in Volkswagen’s Electric Vehicle Deal

Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...

By Carolyn Whetzel

California’s capital city will get a huge chunk of the initial $200 million investment Volkswagen must make in the state’s zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure.

Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America will spend $44 million in Sacramento over the next 30 months on electric charging facilities, electric car ride sharing services, and other projects to demonstrate the benefits of zero-emission vehicles.

“We will not waste this opportunity,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told the California Air Resources Board at a July 27 hearing where the agency approved the plan. The city aims to use the investment to make it “a hub for alternative fuel technology,” he said.

The commitment comes in the initial phase of the court-ordered $800 million, 10-year investment program after Volkswagen admitted to installing software in its model year 2009-2016 diesel cars to cheat on federal air pollution tests. Federal regulators approved a similar national investment plan in April.

California has already pushed to get more electric cars on the road with Gov. Jerry Brown (D) aiming for 1.5 million zero-emission cars by 2025. The state offers rebates for drivers who purchase electric vehicles.

The remaining Volkswagen funds will be spent on hundreds of new charging stations in Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco and fast charging systems along highways. Other elements of the plan and a supplement CARB requested in March, focus on giving low-income and disadvantaged communities access to zero-emission vehicles and public outreach.

Disadvantaged Communities Want Share

Steinberg pledged that disadvantaged areas of the city would benefit from the investments.

Environmental justice groups worked with Electrify America to win assurances that low-income and disadvantaged communities will benefit from the funds, Joel Espino, an attorney with the Greenlining Institute, a racial and economic justice group, told Bloomberg BNA July 28.

“Electrify America agreed to the provide quarterly reports to CARB on the investments,” he said. Those reports are an opportunity to monitor the company’s progress in meeting its goal to invest in these communities, he said.

The state’s electric charging companies also stand to benefit from Volkswagen’s investment program, Terry O’Day, vice president of EVgo, which builds electric vehicle charging stations, told Bloomberg BNA July 28.

“This investment is a pivotal opportunity for the industry and can inspire a lot more people to buy electric cars,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carolyn Whetzel in Los Angeles at cwhetzel@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Try Environment & Energy Report