VW Revamps Zero-Emissions Vehicle Plan to Woo California

By Carolyn Whetzel

Volkswagen agreed to install more electric vehicle charging facilities in California’s disadvantaged communities to win state approval of its $200 million investment plan.

The commitment comes in an updated plan Electrify America submitted to the California Air Resources Board June 29, to address the agency’s concerns about implementation of the first phase of VW’s zero-emission investment program in California.

Electrify America is the VW subsidiary created to implement the national and California zero-emissions investment plans required under a consent decree settling a lawsuit over the company’s diesel emissions cheating.

Under the California settlement, the company must spend $800 million over 10 years to help build the state’s zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and advance the electric vehicle market. Federal regulators approved the similar, but separate, $2 billion national plan in April. CARB, which rejected Electrify America’s first plan in May, wants 35 percent of the investments to go to low-income and disadvantaged areas and more information on plans for hydrogen fueling stations and costs.

The supplemental plan stops short of guaranteeing the company will spend 35 percent of its investments in disadvantaged areas. Electrify America said it “anticipates” spending 35 percent, but the investments would be based on business decisions.

The company agreed to include Fresno, in the Central Valley, to the list of metropolitan areas targeted for community charging facilities and focus on areas CARB prioritized to promote electric vehicles. Electrify America explained that it is launching the program’s Green City Initiative in Sacramento, which represents many under-served areas and said it would provide more information on hydrogen fuel cell vehicle infrastructure.

“It’s a marked improvement,” CARB Board Member Dean Florez, a former state senator, told Bloomberg BNA. “I appreciate the company trying to achieve the 35 percent goal.”

Still, it is unclear where the investments will be made in the first phase, he said. “I think the board will still have questions about the plans,” Florez said.

A board vote on the plan has yet to be scheduled. CARB is soliciting public comments on the update through July 14.

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

For More Information

A copy of the supplemental plan is available at http://src.bna.com/qpi

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