ChargePoint Asks Court to Intervene in VW Settlement to Avoid ‘Potentially Disastrous’ Market Impact

A $2 billion portion of Volkswagen’s proposed $14.7 billion “Dieselgate” settlement could take several companies out of business in electric vehicle charging, according to a court document filed by ChargePoint.

ChargePoint, which operates the largest U.S. network of charging stations for plug-in electrified vehicles, requested an intervention in federal court late Tuesday claiming the settlement could have an “enormous, and if not modified, potentially disastrous” effect on the market, according to the Wall Street Journal. The June deal between VW and government agencies, which still needs final court approval, directs the German automaker to spend $2 billion over 10 years to develop, build, and maintain infrastructure for zero-emission vehicles.

In the filing made in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, ChargePoint said the settlement could drive out all competition in the market for PEV infrastructure. The company said it expects that business to generate around $800 million in revenue for charging infrastructure companies from 2017 through mid-2019.

Companies “will be unable to afford to invest in new charging products or services when the dominant player in that market makes such investments with ‘penalty’ dollars and, as such, is untethered to the normal constraints and financial metrics by which all other market participants must operate,” the company said in its filing.

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On Aug., 28 parties, including ChargePoint, EV Connect, and Electric Vehicle Charging Association, filed a letter with the U.S. Justice Department. The 28 signers asked the federal government to exercise fair market standards as VW invests $2 billion in clean car infrastructure. Charging companies are concerned VW could have too much power in the process to shape the developing charging infrastructure and it could hurt market competition, Reuters reported.

“The agreement shouldn’t pick winners and losers, especially given that this emerging market transition will in no small part define 21st century transportation,” the letter said.

In a September filing, the Justice Department said the government determined that the required $2 billion investment by VW would make for a “meaningful addition to the current” landscape.

“Other entities are likely to increasingly engage” in zero-emissions investments in the coming years, “allowing for continuing competition in these emerging markets,” the Justice Department said.

In its filing, ChargePoint said it makes and sells equipment and services to charging station owners, and maintains “more than 30,000” charging spots.

ChargePoint continues to have a cooperative relationship with Volkswagen, and is asking for what it considers to be an equitable settlement from the overseeing government agencies. Last Month, ChargePoint made an alliance with VW and BMW to install 95 new public fast charging stations on popular east and west coast highways.

A final approval hearing on the $14.7 billion settlement with VW is scheduled for Oct. 18.

Wall Street Journal