As part of the compensation for the emissions scandal involving its diesel vehicles, Volkswagen has agreed with the State of California to invest $ 1.2 billion in two environmental programs: a $381 million anti-pollution scheme, and an $800 million fund for the construction of electric charging infrastructure.
This second plan includes a first phase in which $120 million will be allocated for the construction of a network of 400 charging stations for electric vehicles, which will offer a total of between 2,000 and 3,000 universal chargers. In a second phase, $75 million will be spent on a 150 kW fast charger network, as well as $45 million for a network of six community charging stations in low-income neighborhoods in the metropolitan areas of San José, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego, which are estimated to have more difficulty joining electrification. A further $44 million will go toward building a Green City in the state capital, Sacramento, which will provide zero-emission vehicles to low-income residents through ride-sharing, car-sharing, and similar programs. Finally, a ten-year plan carried out by a subsidiary of the company, Electrify America, will build a network of universal rapid chargers nationwide.
Nobody would deny the company was wrong to come up with a strategy its vehicles would show reasonable levels of emissions in tests, which in reality were 40 times the legal limit. In fact, there is already a very complete article about it on Wikipedia. We are talking here about 11 million vehicles worldwide, some 600,000 in the United States alone. Whether Volkswagen acted alone or as part of a cartel of other German companies with similar strategies and they were the only ones being caught red handed remains to be clarified. But what seems evident is that, once the game was up, it has been possible to take advantage of Volkswagen’s situation to force the company to compensate partially by dedicating resources to the construction of infrastructure to help the growing development of the electric vehicle. A brand obliged to invest in electrical infrastructure has no choice but to understand that in one way or another, the future is electric and it better get on the program.
The question, now, is who receives compensation. If we compare the measures taken against the company in the United States with those undertaken in other countries, which in the case of my country, Spain, is zero, while Californians will benefit from a broad initiative to build electric charging infrastructure, those in other countries will, in most cases, be satisfied with work on vehicles to reduce emissions to within legal limits, but which will not be much compensation to those of us who had to breathe the filthy that they emitted.
Clearly, the US, which uncovered the scandal through an EPA investigation, has been able to extract much more from Volkswagen, even though it was not even the most affected country. A matter of power and influence, yes, but above all, a country with a vision of the future.
(En español, aquí)