VW’s Dieselgate Penance: Is First of Five 2.5-Year Budgets for Electrify America Unfairly Favoring California?

As part of its punishment for purposely building and selling TDI-engined cars fitted with emissions control software specifically designed to cheat in emissions testing, German automaker Volkswagen has founded a new 10-year program called “Electrify America”. This program, funded to the tune of $2 billion out of Volkswagen’s own purse, is supposed to promote the use of and support the mass adoption of electric vehicles by building new public charging infrastructure, advertising electric vehicles in the media, and advocating for the transition to electrified vehicles.

Under the court agreement, Electrify America will be publishing five interim proposals over the next ten years, detailing just where every dime of the $2 billion will be spent furthering the advancement of cleaner, greener vehicles. But earlier this week we learned that the first of those proposals — submitted to the California Air Resources Board back in February — proposes spending $200 million in the first 2.5 years in the state of California to improve electric vehicle infrastructure and mass-adoption, while spending only $300 outside of the Golden State.

Which got us thinking. Is Electrify America the policy a true agent for change in the plug-in vehicle world, or is it simply a token gesture that’s little more than the policy equivalent of a compliance car?

Watch the video above and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Martin Lacey

    Anything slower than a type 2 is a waste of time and money, but it’s a good mix.

    Nikki – If Electrify America installed these in Arizona or some other state with low EV adoption rates think of the negative response from journalists who could accuse them of deliberately installing chargers that won’t be used and the reaffirmation of the mantra “the public don’t want electric cars”. Yes, California is getting more than it’s fair share, but California is the lead driver of the ZEV mandate which has benefited the entire world!

  • John O’Neal

    It appears that a portion of the VW Electrify funds are dependent on the state providing input as to where the funds should be allocated. For instance “Washington, in a joint plan with Oregon, wants to see some of that VW investment come to the Pacific Northwest to help build a corridor of electric vehicle chargers from California to British Columbia. The states asked Electrify America to consider investing in publicly-available chargers to help fill gaps on Interstate-5 and other widely-used highways in the region.” https://www.bna.com/states-look-stretch-n57982085109/

  • Jeff Laurence

    Building an infrastructure where it’s needed doesn’t seem like such an unfair project. Trying sell cars to people that have historically wanted them seems pretty smart too. The majority of electric cars are sold in California so why not spend the money there? Trying to crack the market in high resistance areas seems like more of a waste to me. DC quick charging along major routes follows the same logic. Build it where it’s needed.

    • CDspeed

      It’s needed nationally, it shouldn’t be for changing the minds of those in high resistance areas I agree. But we can’t keep sending everything to California, and hope the rest of the country catches up on the few bread crumbs that are left over. California has more electric models, and brands to choose from, and a greater effort to install chargers so of course more EVs are sold there. So how are states with very little of either supposed to raise interest in EVs at all?

  • CDspeed

    I’d like to see the money go towards a reliable nationwide network that is spread out properly for long distance travel. One reason Tesla’s Supercharger network went up, and spread out so well is they were one company looking at making that happen. Rather then several companies with several different ways of going about this task. And unfortunately they just started installing chargers wherever they could get a business or local government to buy them. And there hasn’t been a focus on a real network, they need to think like Tesla, or like a cell phone carrier, and look at national coverage. But as usual if you can think of a practical use for something, the people in charge of that thing will do almost the exact opposite. California will become an EV utopia, while naysayers in states with poor rapid charger coverage can keep chanting “electric cars will never work because there aren’t enough rapid chargers”.

  • Ed

    Let’s fully build out and electric California. That will prove the viability of EVs, debug the many infrastructure issues and serve as a model for other states, where the need and demand is not as high. California long ago volunteered to be the ginea pig for cleaner transportation. This will greatly easy the introduction of EVs elsewhere.

  • David

    I don’t know why Trump’s EPA is favoring California here. He’d have a chance to win NY in 2020, no chance in CA, so he could throw us NYers a favor or two.

  • dlwatib

    Yes, the settlement definitely favors California, deliberately. California brought a separate lawsuit against VW and therefore has separate claims against the company. Their disproportionate share represents the fine levied in that case.

    You can’t argue that the money spent in California will somehow be wasted. It will get used to address real needs. And once a viable market is up and running in California, then it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the country adopts EVs. Opinion leaders tend to live and/or work or at least vacation in California. And of course, the TV, movie and social media industries are all based in California, the very industries devoted to changing the opinions of the general public.

    Where Electrify America is open to criticism is that they leave the door open to providing completely useless hydrogen fueling stations in future spending rounds. That would be a pointless waste of money.