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California ARB approves $200M VW zero-emission vehicle investment in California; first phase of $800M investment

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) today approved the first of four plans by VW to invest $800 million over 10 years in zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure, public outreach, and access to these ultra-clean vehicles for residents of disadvantaged communities. (Earlier post.) The investment is part of a multi-pronged settlement agreement resulting from the automaker’s use of defeat device software in its 2009-2016 diesel passenger cars.

VW has paid out more than $15 billion in claims and penalties for using those defeat device; the ZEV investment is one of multiple pieces intended to mitigate the resulting projected environmental harm.

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 also 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, US EPA, the California Department of Justice and the US Department of Justice that combines mitigation and penalties to fully resolve all of the environmental harm from VW’s actions. The funds will be invested by Electrify America, a subsidiary of VW created for that purpose, in four installments of $200 million each over the next 10 years in projects identified in four separate 30-month Investment Plans approved by CARB through a public process.

The first $200-million invested in California will build the basic charging network around the State, launch a multi-lingual public outreach and education campaign, and begin ZEV access projects, including the first “Green City” project.

Electrify America has chosen Sacramento as the first of two Green Cities, in which it will provide a set of ZEV initiatives that are accessible to city inhabitants and offer residents better quality of life through enhanced mobility and improved air quality. This will include charging stations and access to ZEVs for car sharing, and other “ride and drive” opportunities. A second Green City in a disadvantaged community will be selected in a later phase of the investment.

The first phase of the Investment Plan, which is made up of a Plan and Supplement, will also include ZEV infrastructure rollouts in six metropolitan areas. Those cities are Fresno, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento. The Plan includes community charging networks in each of these cities, as well as a statewide high-speed charging network. The vehicle charging networks include community locations, multi-family dwellings, commercial and retail locations, workplaces and municipal parking lots and garages.

Electrify America intends to put chargers into disadvantaged communities and other areas where they do not yet exist. The company estimates that more than 35% of its investments will benefit those communities.

With oversight of these investments, CARB will continue to provide guidance to Electrify America as it implements the plan. Electrify America will file detailed, written reports to CARB on a regular basis, and CARB staff will continue having regular discussions with Electrify America to monitor and assist with the investment projects.

CARB’s oversight role will also ensure compliance with the requirements of SB 92, passed by the Legislature this session. SB 92 requires that CARB approve or disapprove each proposed Plan at a public meeting, that the Plans be posted publicly, and that CARB strive to ensure that at least 35% of the investments benefit the state’s disadvantaged communities.

CARB will also ensure compliance with its written guidance and the Consent Decree’s terms and goals. Additionally, an independent auditor will monitor VW’s efforts for compliance with CARB’s approvals and the Consent Decree.


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