EPA To Volkswagen: Make Electric Cars In The U.S.

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 47

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2016 Volkswagen e-Golf

2016 Volkswagen e-Golf

Following the Diesel Gate scandal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing for Volkswagen to manufacture electric cars here in the U.S. as a way to partially make up for its wrongdoings.

This news comes from German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. The paper says that the EPA is “asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States,” according to Reuters.

What’s not clear is if the EPA is asking VW to build its existing electric cars here in the U.S. or if the government agency is suggesting to Volkswagen that it brings production of its future electric cars here to the States.

If VW plug-in assembly did come to Chattanooga, we would have to consider Tennessee the capital of EV production in North America as Nissan also has its massive automotive and battery facility set up in nearby Smyrna – some ~110 miles away.  Why is Tennessee considered at all for automakers?  Tax structure/state incentives of course.

“Talks with the EPA are ongoing and we are not commenting on the contents and state of the negotiations,” a VW spokesman said to the Reuters, while the agency itself declined to comment.

Source: Reuters

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47 responses to "EPA To Volkswagen: Make Electric Cars In The U.S."

  1. Braben says:

    This is great! Much better than forcing them to pay billion-dollar penalties which will only force them to reduce their R&D efforts.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Right on!

      More good jobs for Americans is a far better outcome than forcing VW to pay a huge fine. In fact, that could be a win-win if it reduces VW’s costs for cars sold in North America.

      1. Djoni says:

        Only if they remove all the faulty diesel car on the road every day.
        For the time being, those are still on the road, asphyxiating people and degrading the air, health and environment.
        So why are those polluting hazard still on the road?

        1. evcarnut says:

          Germans are on a strict Diesel diet..They would serve it as a drink If they could.. Just look at the$$ Billions $$ Mercedes sank into their Upcoming New Diesel Engines research & development… AMAZING! Follow the money $$$$..l o l

          1. Mxs says:

            Of course you have it wrong as most people living on this side of the pond …. Have you seen how much is fuel cost in Europe? It’s not Germans, it’s the whole Europe driving 70% of vehicles being diesels.

            What do you think people would drive here if fuel was as expensive here as it is there???

            Yes, people follow money, who doesn’t in this world??

        2. Mxs says:

          It’s really simple …. Because the cars involved are still miles ahead in total emissions and fuel used than most vehicles on the road, probably including some of yours. You might be driving EV or PHEV today, but what have you been driving so far???

    2. MDEV says:

      The have to pay cheating the customers and US regulations, they have enough money to do both. If not punish is done they will become like Wall Street they run scams and pay a little penalty as a part of business.

      1. Djoni says:

        No, Wall street didn’t get any penalty for wrongdoing, they’ve been reward for that and all big banana awarded bonus.
        And who do you think pay for those crook?

      2. Braben says:

        I think throwing some of the responsible executives in jail would be a much more effective deterrent than extracting huge amounts of money from the company (that they can likely put to better use than the government).

        1. Heisenberght says:

          Nope.

          Putting someone to jail barely helps anyone.

          I prefer if they can push vw to build a decent quick charger network. Let’s say for 250 million dollars. That would be tons of charging spots. @25k per spot that would make 10000 DC quick charger spots.

          Of course vw should also be forced to install a sufficient amount of renewable energy facilities to net power those outlets.

          All this has to be done within 2 years, with very high fines if not.

          Further ensure that they don’t charge excessive amounts for charging.

          With such a network in place vw will have more willingness to push EV sales (not only in carb states) to make profit from the network.

          The only drawback I can see in such a solution is that it would put VW into a close to monopoly situation for charger network (Tesla being the only competitor…)

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Heisenberght said:

            “Putting someone to jail barely helps anyone.”

            It will certainly “help” deter others from committing similar crimes and fraud.

            “All this has to be done within 2 years, with very high fines if not.”

            Leveling a fine on a company punishes everyone who works for the company, and everyone who owns stock in it. Why punish ordinary stockholders for felonies committed by just some of the company executives and employees? Why punish low-level employees who knew nothing about the fraud in question?

            Let’s keep in mind that the fiction of a corporate “person” is just that: a fiction. Corporations don’t commit crimes; only people who work for corporations can commit crimes. Furthermore, corporations can’t be thrown in jail, but people certainly can — and should be, when they commit fraud. Especially when they commit fraud on such a massive scale!

          2. Braben says:

            Frankly, I think the idea of a car manufacturer running a charging network is just stupid. It may have made sense for an early mover like Tesla to build some chargers to get things rolling, but it will not be sustainable in the long term. There are reasons why no car manufacturer runs a gas station chain.

            What we need is a business model that makes it profitable for independent charging networks to thrive. And they need to work for every car, not just one manufacturer’s. Then the charger infrastructure will be built very quickly if demand materializes as we all hope. You will not get there by “forcing” VW to build chargers that will likely be outdated before there is any real demand for them.

            1. evcarnut says:

              They are all in on it ….Honor amongst thieves…

            2. Jay says:

              +1, especially for a dealer-dominated auto manufacturer. Nissan dealer EVSE accessibility, hours of operation, pricing and state of repair vary greatly between dealers EVen in the EV haven around Seattle. Absolutely no consistency or reliability.

          3. pjwood1 says:

            Heisenberght: “I prefer if they can push vw to build a decent quick charger network. Let’s say for 250 million dollars.”

            I think you’re right about how far 250mm could go, with CCS. But what if VW sees it as an alternative to a more expensive EPA cash fine? That would be the EPA’s idea, in spirit, to offer a cheaper deed. VW’s only interest could then be compliance, not a functioning network. Does EPA understand the terms it would need to lay down, in order to get a good network? I get “thermostat error”, when I’ve used DCFC CHAdeMo. Would the EPA print up a “What VW must do, when its customers see too many broken chargers” clause? I don’t see good faith coming from the arrangement.

            Heisenberght: “The only drawback I can see in such a solution is that it would put VW into a close to monopoly situation for charger network (Tesla being the only competitor…)”

            You could have EPA offering VW a monopoly, and if it related to electric vehicles I’m still not sure they’d bite. It’s not where Piech, and Porsche, hearts are.

    3. Alexander says:

      Best idea since VW started with dieselengines in cars: stop the diesel, start the EV (maybe a small diesel range extender)

  2. Ash09 says:

    This would be a much better fitting “punishment” for them to make up for the damage their cars did to the air quality.

  3. mustang_sallad says:

    this is huge, folks have been suggesting this since day one of Dieselgate, but having it come from the EPA would be very significant. I think VW was quick to identify EVs as a way to rebuild their reputation, but it could help to force their hand.

  4. Ian says:

    And there it is, the real reason for exposing VW… Economic blackmail for job creation.

    1. So, you figure some college discovered VW cheated just so they could get some extra jobs?

      How about the VW chief knew, but kept it quiet, to avoid building EV’s?

    2. Robb Stark says:

      Nutty conspiracy theory nonsense.

      No one forced VW to cheat nor to coverup after the fact.

      The people that caught VW were International Council on Clean Transportation, a German NGO.

      Because of their constant anti-corporate agenda no one believed them so they gave their data to University of West Virginia researchers,who specialize in the field, to confirm and give the data to the EPA.

      Having VW build BEVs in the USA lowers cost of VW BEVs to American consumers that will not be forced to buy top equipment packages in order to buy a VW BEV and it helps VW avoid massive maximum fines. A win-win compromise.

      1. Ian says:

        The other auto companies knew for years that the numbers didn’t add up for emissions of VW diesel vehicles. That’s a fact. The EPA trying to strong arm them to create jobs in Tennessee. It’s a fact. There is no conspiracy but using leverage against them will only lessen the actual punishment that is deserved. Watch and shoot, VW will probably escape this situation. Charge them, fine them, regulate them like should happen but be careful, if they make concessions so will you. Someone better tell Nissan setting up shop in Tennessee is a punishment. That should give them one get out of jail free card.

  5. Alex says:

    Then many EVs are build in US, Tesla, Leaf, Ford, and Bolt, sry i mean the LG. 😉

    1. JustWilliamPDX says:

      The LG? Does that mean a Tesla should be called “The Panasonic”? Of course not. Almost all vehicles are assemblages of parts from many suppliers.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        First of all: Lighten up, it was a joke. Notice the smiley?

        Secondly: Panasonic doesn’t make the entire EV powertrain for Tesla. In fact, they don’t even assemble the battery pack. They only make the battery cells. But LG Electronics & LG Chem do make the entire powertrain for the Bolt.

        1. mr. M says:

          + the entertainment, navigation, UI, …

  6. Since I was told by VW reps at the CIAS yesterday, they don’t sell the golf in Canada, maybe we should push them to build and sell that here, and expand the AC And DC charging infrastructure up here as well!

    Maybe we could put the fines part into a pool of money that businesses, cities, and States/Provinces could access for enhancing EV Charging Infrastructure – even Tesla could use some for expanding supercharger sites beyond their existing plans!

  7. PVH says:

    Of course this would need to be confirmed but that is (IMO) good news.

  8. Rebel44 says:

    IMO, CABR should as a part of punishment move them a several years into the future, in terms of ZEV credits requirements – forcing them to sell more EVs as well as buying more ZEV credits from others.

  9. SparkEV says:

    While it’s better than simple fine, I think better would’ve been DCFC in all their dealers and make them available for 24/7 access. Not free, of course, but maybe price it like local electric rate + X% where X is to allow enough to recoup the cost of charger spread over its lifetime.

  10. Anton Wahlman says:

    I had been hearing rumors that a Presidential candidate says he’s going to force companies to move their car production to the US, and who is threatening a company to make a particular product according to a design of the government wishes (Apple’s encryption).

    Little did I know that Trump had already won the election!

  11. Just_chris says:

    Sounds great, it would be great for the “fine” to be you must make x-million ev’s and install z-thousand chargers in the us by 2025. If VW had a solid long term target they would pull the whole industry along. As for charging infrastructure it needs to be multi standard, it should include tesla but absolutely not be adding additional stalls or sites to the SC network which, despite sabre rattling, IMO will always be used by tesla to control the market in their favour.

  12. wavelet says:

    Color me skeptic on the truth of this…
    The EPA is a government agency in charge of environmental affairs, specifically enforcing vehicle emission standards.
    What does this have to do with where the cars are made? That’s a completely commercial issue, and I’d be very surprised if an EPA employee could even legally discuss this issue with an importer.

    1. PVH says:

      Indeed…it makes no sense.

    2. kubel says:

      Don’t be naive. This is politics. Using the power of the EPA to create thousands of jobs will make certain politicians look rather good at a time when people are starting to finally see them for what they really are.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        It is indeed pretty naive to suggest that ordinary employees of the EPA would have anything to do with such negotiations. If this is more than just a rumor, it’s because there are high-level closed door negotiations between U.S. officials — probably U.S. Justice Department officials and/or U.S. elected politicians — and VW’s legal team. I would guess the EPA is just the blunt instrument that the Justice Dept. is using to threaten VW into compliance.

    3. Robb Stark says:

      Of course any such agreement is not with the EPA but with the Dept of Justice and approved by a Federal Judge.

      Can’t expect foreign newspapers to get all the specifics of our Byzantine bureaucracy correct.

      But if the you think the EPA will not be in the loop on this inside the Oval Office then that is equally naive.

  13. pjwood1 says:

    Key is at what point does foot dragging stop. Would the end of light-duty diesel make them want to succeed, here? VW could build twice as many CCS as CHAdeMO, then fail to maintain, or locate them properly.

    Unless they are really in on this, it is too easy to count the ways it fails, despite best punitive intentions.

  14. Mister G says:

    VW make a 200 mile EV for $35k before tax credit and you’ll be off the hook

  15. ffbj says:

    Not likely to happen.

  16. bro1999 says:

    VW is facing potentially $90 BILLION in fines….and that’s the US alone. http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-volkswagen-usa-idUKKBN0UI1TN20160104

    If VW was given a choice, I think it would more than gladly take the “punishment” of building new EVs in the US, along with building a nationwide charging network.

    No way the tab for 1 EV plant in TN and a coast-to-coast charging network comes anywhere close to 90 BILLION. Perhaps several billion for the EV plant, and a few hundred million for the charging network.

    As a reference, Tesla’s supercharger network was valued at a little over $150 million.

    1. mr. M says:

      90 billion would be roughly 2.5 million cars for 35.000$. Meaning VW will give 2.5million BEV for free to the people… 😉

  17. Lou says:

    I have no idea how this will turn out but if the story is “true”, VW has ben gifted with a way to retain old customers(“…Hey, we made good on our past bad deeds…”) and can then make a goal of being the leader in EV technology and manufacturing. Let’s face it, $50 billion investment into EV design and manufacture, along with some sort of QC infrastructure, could really change VW for the better, all the while helping the US’ EV scene develop.

    Bottom line though, I don’t think it will happen that way. Just too many obstacles, too many people will interfere, “cut them a break…” mentality, etc.

  18. pjwood1 says:

    “Better off” paying an EPA fine:
    http://tinyurl.com/gly2s6b
    Arndt Ellinghorst, is a popular auto analyst, from Evercore ISI.

    Away from EPA, VW needs a big truck. Their 2016’s can run on reg unleaded. That’s good, but the Q7 (MQB) isn’t getting kudos for room in the 3rd row.

    I know this is away from the electrics, but the shareholder class (non Tesla) wants its return on equity, and trucks will be where that comes from for a while.

  19. Ed says:

    It’s none of the EPA’s business where VW builds cars.

  20. Jake Brake says:

    I like the idea of VW paying to build out the DCFC network based on the SAE Combo charger as well as producing their EV’s here locally.