CARB Approves First VW Electric Vehicle Plan

Volkswagen will invest $800 million on zero-emission infrastructure in the next decade, part of its settlement with state and federal agencies for using a "defeat device" that caused in 2009-2016 diesel cars to emit far more nitrogen oxide than allowed.

The California Air Resources Board on July 27 approved the first of four plans by Volkswagen to invest $800 million over 10 years in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, public outreach, and access for residents of disadvantaged communities. The investment is part of a settlement agreement resulting from VW's use of software in its 2009-2016 diesel passenger cars, causing them to emit as much as 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.

"We are pleased that Volkswagen can now move forward with its ambitious plan to help bring electric vehicle technology to corners of California ignored in earlier efforts," CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said. "This will help the state as a whole, and especially some of our disadvantaged and underserved communities, to shift to the cleanest vehicles on the market to help clean the air and fight climate change."

CARB technicians were instrumental in forcing VW to admit to the use of what was called a "defeat device" in those cars in 2015. VW has paid out more than $15 billion in claims and penalties for using them, and the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) investment agreed to July 27 is one element to mitigate the environmental harm caused by VW's actions, according to the state agency.

CARB reported that a separate part of the overall agreement requires VW to mitigate the excess NOx emissions of its diesel passenger cars by paying about $422 million to California to replace older, dirtier, heavy-duty vehicles and equipment with cleaner versions; the agreement requires VW to buy back or fix affected vehicles and to pay $153.8 million to the state in penalties. The $800 million ZEV investment commitment is part of an agreement by the company with CARB, federal EPA, the California Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Justice. The money will be invested by Electrify America, a subsidiary of VW created for that purpose, in four installments of $200 million each during the next decade.

The initial $200 million will build the basic charging network around the state, launch a public outreach and education campaign, and begin ZEV access projects, including the first "Green City" in Sacramento. A second Green City has yet to be selected.