Volkswagen of America to invest $10M in EV charging infrastructure by 2016; calls for more legislative support to spur EV adoption
Volkswagen of America will invest $10 million by 2016 to support the build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US, said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy. At the same time, Sommer said in his presentation at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington DC, continued legislative support is needed to reach the next level of electric vehicle adoption.
In January, Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, announced an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts; specifically to install nearly 100 DC Fast Chargers across both coasts aiming to have charging sites no more than 50 miles apart. (Earlier post.) This program is one component of the $10-million commitment Volkswagen is making to support the build-out of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Volkswagen will also invest to support installation of charging stations in certain dealer locations. To facilitate local, state and regional infrastructure deployment, Sommer suggested that the regulators will also need to support programs that reinforce these efforts to support mass electric vehicle adoption including the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program and the Department of Transportation’s MAP-21 program.
As Volkswagen and as an industry, we are doing our part to show the EV is a perfectly viable daily driver and as I have mentioned, we have done a lot on our side to bring this confidence to the consumer and drive further adoption of electric vehicles.
Automakers have responded to the challenging regulations and standards put before us. We have done our part to bring very competitive and viable vehicles to market but we have to have a market that encourages their sale. As a market, we are not where some predicted we would be. We know that Secretary of Energy Moniz recently admitted that the Obama administration’s ambitious and encouraging goal of one million EVs on American roads by 2015 is unattainable. In the best case scenarios, with a strong market, we’ll see closer to 400,000 by the end of this year.
How do we get to mass acceptance of EVs here? How do we move beyond these early adopters and passionate enthusiasts? We cannot do so alone. We can offer the best vehicles, invest in infrastructure, support the needs and wants of these special consumers, but in order to move into the mainstream, we need continued support.
Our push for EV growth is evident around the world and here in the US but the absence of a well-established charging infrastructure, gas prices at a national average of $2.06/gallon, and the higher sticker price of electric vehicles, have resulted in a dramatic shortfall of the President’s aspirational goal of 1 million electric vehicles in the US market by 2015.—Jörg Sommer
Sommer’s list of needed measures at the Federal, state, regional and local levels included:
Congressional support for a consistent and predictable tax policy for electric drive vehicles and infrastructure. Examples in this category include protecting and expanding existing tax credits in the Energy Independence and Security Act. Sommer also suggested Congress should enact a multi-year extension of the incentives for commercial and private investment in small and large-scale alternative-fuel vehicle infrastructure.
Congressional support with the mid-term review of the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulation to extend the multiplier credits for plug-in vehicles beyond MY21 and to extend the number of plug-in vehicles exempt from upstream emissions under the regulation.
Federal and state commitment to cleaner fleets by purchasing EVs and PHEVs. “This should be a U.S. Government priority, and purchases should not be restricted by domestic content provisions. As the Greenhouse Gas regulations are not limited to domestic automakers, neither should the purchase of EVs and PHEVs be limited to domestic brands for government fleets.”
Programs are needed for state, regional and local infrastructure development, such as the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program and the Department of Transportation’s MAP-21 program. Volkswagen would like to see federal financing support for establishing fast charging networks in urban areas and interstate corridors.
Sommer also noted that because EV consumer are buying into a new way of driving, even a lifestyle, not just a car, Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility. In addition to the Volkswagen Group’s global commitment to become more environmentally conscious from sourcing, to manufacturing, to the cars on the road and beyond, this includes strategic collaborations to address the forward thinking lifestyle and preferences of the EV customer.
Volkswagen of America teamed with 3Degrees, a renewable energy and carbon offset services provider. Under a carbon reduction/offset program, there will be offset of the e-Golf’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from its production, distribution and from the estimated emissions produced from keeping the vehicle charged through the initial 36,000 miles of the vehicle’s life.
Other initiatives supporting VWoA’s holistic approach include an arrangement with SunPower that offers e-Golf customers the opportunity to install a high performance solar system to help provide the power to charge their electric vehicle using clean solar energy. In addition, e-Golf customers will have the opportunity to purchase home charging installation and hardware packages from Bosch.
Based on its modular toolkits, Volkswagen Group engineers around the world are currently working on electrifying up to 40 different models: from pure electric drives to plug-in hybrids, and even the fuel cell, Sommer said.