California Agrees To VW’s Compromise On First Phase of Clean Car Program

California has agreed to Volkswagen’s plan to spend $200 million in the state supporting electrified transportation and factoring in reaching disadvantaged communities.

Approved Thursday by the California Air Resources Board, the 30-month program is the first phase of an $800 million settlement with the state. VW pledged $2 billion overall will be spent over 10 years in the U.S. to make amends for the September 2015 discovery of its diesel emissions cheating scandal.

VW had submitted an earlier version of the plan that stalled. It had been criticized for lacking an acceptable strategy to better serve disadvantaged communities that are exposed to higher levels of air pollution than the rest of the state. There was also concern over the lack of support for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which makes for part of California’s zero emission vehicle policy.

That has been corrected by the U.S. division of the German automaker under its Electrifiy America unit. The automaker will spend 35 percent of the investment in disadvantaged communities under the state’s recommendation.

Another $2-$3 million will go to brand-neutral public education on available resources including public charging. It will be directed toward disadvantaged, low-income communities.

About $75 million will be spent on a highway charging network across the state with more than 50 stations in the network; another $45 million will be set up in more than 350 community chargers in Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.

It also plans to spend $44 million in Sacramento, the state capital, where it intends to install more than 50 chargers to support car sharing services and other zero-emission programs.

Abigail Ramirez, a policy advocate with the Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability, wants to see enough of the VW funds spent in rural parts of California’s Central Valley, where air pollution is considered to be the worst in the state.

“A lot of kids here in the valley suffer from asthma. When the air quality is really bad, they can’t play outside,” Ramirez said.

SEE ALSO: VW Reveals Tesla-like EV Charging Plans

Some of the funds are expected to stay in line with the first version of the plan submitted in the spring. For the highway charging stations, VW would like to follow Tesla’s Supercharger lead.

Next-generation fast chargers would be installed at each of VW’s California highway network of 50 new stations. They would be designed to handle chargers capable of going up to at least 150 kilowatts and eventually going up to 320 kW.

VW and several other automakers are carefully watching what Tesla has been up to in marketing strategy, retail stores, and expanding its charging network.


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