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Economic Recharge: CA Pushes VW to Put Electric Charging Stations in Lower Income Areas

By: Ryan Gallagher July 10, 2017
Volkswagen is installing electric recharging stations in low-income California communities as a result of its emissions-test cheating scandal. (Anders Krusberg/Newscast Creative)

Volkswagen officials—who are atoning for emissions-test cheating—plan to provide electric car charging stations nationwide, and more specifically, will be updating their service in poor California communities.

The German automobile manufacturer is being financially punished after cheating diesel emission regulations in 2015. The U.S. Department of Justice found Volkswagen to be in direct violation of the Clean Air Act after installing technology in nearly 600,000 engines that allowed the cars to cheat on emissions tests.

As a result, Volkswagen must spend $800 million in California alone and a total of $2 billion nationwide on Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) charging stations. This spring, the company released a nationwide ZEV plan as well as one proposal specific to California.

In May, the California Air Resources Board told Volkswagen’s team it would have to spend 35% of its ZEV station budget in lower-income areas, forcing the carmaker to submit an addendum to their proposal in late June.

Furthermore, Volkswagen will spend $200 million in the first 30-month investment cycle once their new plan has been approved.

The automaker will build community charging stations for both homes and businesses in six disadvantaged communities, said Mark McNabb, CEO of Electrify America, a Volkswagen-owned entity charged with creating the ZEV charging stations. This is up from the initial promise of five communities.

In addition, more than 50% of funds for stations near highways will be spent in lower income areas, according to Volkswagen’s statement.

The adjustments to Volkswagen’s plan were a “marked improvement,” said Air Resources Board member Dean Florez. However, there is no set date for when the Board will vote on Volkswagen’s adjustment to their plan.

To supplement the action, Volkswagen selected Sacramento to be its first Green City, where it plans to spend $44 million on charging stations, an electric car-sharing service, and more.

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