Melissa Wen for Reuters reports that California regulators have "green-lighted" VW's plan to fill the state with clean vehicle infrastructure - installing charging stations and helping to build out ride sharing - to make amends for its misdeeds over the emissions scandal that broke in Sept. 2015.
California has wrested $800 million from the automaker as part of a larger $2 billion deal VW settled with American authorities (in addition to related settlements and fines) to build clean vehicle infrastructure in areas throughout the country.
Where will these charging stations go?
As Wen reports, a number of California cities will benefit:
- $75 million for a charging network along the highways (50+ charging stations)
- $45 million for community charging stations (350 stations)
- $44 million for 50 stations in Sacramento
In addition to Sacramento, other cities include Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.
The EPA's Notice of Violation
A "Notice of Violation" sent to VW from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 18, 2015, accused VW of manufacturing and installing "defeat devices" to get around emissions tests of diesel VWs. This defeat device allowed diesel models to look better than they actually were, in terms of emissions. This also meant that VW sold cars to American consumers that weren't "Clean Diesel" as advertised.
VW violated environmental law - which put higher levels of pollution into the atmosphere - and committed false advertising (a subspecies of consumer fraud) that resulted in loss of vehicle value for car owners.
The California Air Resources Board
VW's plan was recently held up by the California Air Resources Board, which pushed VW toward ensuring that disadvantaged communities, as Wen reports, would benefit from clean vehicle infrastructure development. The plan was "criticized by regulators for lacking detail on how it would help disadvantaged communities as well as promote hydrogen fuel cell technology."
In turn, VW agreed to devote 35 percent of the funds to disadvantaged communities, and the California Air Resources Board gave the go-ahead.