Automakers Cry Foul Over VW’s Charging Infrastructure Plan In California

APR 28 2017 BY MARK KANE 65

Volkswagen’s Electrify America investment plan of $2 billion raises concerns among would be EV-competitors.

The first $300 million, phase 1 of 4 out of a $1,200 million investment outside California was approved by EPA, while the separate California-specific $200 million 1st phase (out of $800 million) is still under some discussion by the California Air Resources Board.

EVgo and ABB deploys Nation’s First High-Power Electric Vehicle Fast Charging Station – 150 kW

The objections are various, depending of course on the personal interests of those bringing up issues; in total some 120 comments were submitted to CARB.

Some carmakers don’t like the idea of installing charging stations in EV-rich areas, perceiving it as competitive advantage for Volkswagen.  While others would like more charging stations in low-income areas.

The objection that makes our day was placed by Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, which wrote a joint letter urging California to require Volkswagen to spend a “significant portion” of the money on hydrogen fuel cell fueling stations.

The reason for the fuel cell infrastrucutre investment is a threat of California is not achieving its goal of 100 refueling stations installed by 2020; which is pretty much the first time we have ever heard Toyota, Hyundai or Honda knock the woeful state of the fuel cell refueling infrastructure in California.  We don’t imagine we will hear it publicly again much in the future either.

Here is example inputs from major automakers:

Ford Motor Co said it “has reservations about having a key electrification driver dependent on and ultimately controlled by one automotive competitor.” Ford added VW should target areas where “demonstrated market interest does not already exist.”

BMW AG said Volkswagen “should not be afforded an implicit comparative advantage through its ability to control day-to-day operations of consumer charging events” such as waiting times, pricing and billing.”

source: Reuters

Categories: Charging, Volkswagen

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65 Comments on "Automakers Cry Foul Over VW’s Charging Infrastructure Plan In California"

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(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“Some carmakers don’t like the idea of installing charging stations in EV-rich areas, perceiving it as competitive advantage for Volkswagen.”

So if statistics show that neighborhood C has 150 EV’s and neighborhood D has 10, then it makes more sense to build chargers in neighborhood D???
Go ahead, build them there. I’ve seen some in the ghetto and they have either been vandalized, cable stolen, broken and never repaired or the patron gets hassled and in some cases robbed/accosted. But sure “Some carmakers” thinks it’s better to put them there. I’m not blasteing on the ghetto because I lived there and I am there often and see this happen.

Anf for FoolsCell………lol whateva.

Alonso Perez

It’s not a bug, but a feature of their comments. Clearly they want the chargers to have the least possible impact. Cynics.


Get the money from VW, work with charger companies to put them in then sell them back to the charger companies over time. Charger companies get cheap capital and the state gets a bundle for their budget.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

““Ford Motor Co said it “has reservations about having a key electrification driver dependent on and ultimately controlled by one automotive competitor.””

Then maybe you and the others should have stepped up and put up your charge infrastructure or joint collaboration with the others. Funny part is a small startup was able to do it and you “Big Auto” opted NOT TO!

Also, I am pretty sure VM will not be the controlling entity.


Not directly, but they did set up a subsidiary to build and administer the chargers.

Incidentally, I think you’re right in that their arguments are essentially along the lines of “how dare you make us compete! Don’t you know we’re supposed to pocket the money we make? Not spend it to make ourselves better companies?! We here at (insert automaker) are here to maintain the status quo, not disrupt it!”

I could go on, but you get the gist. 🙂


Couldn’t disagree more. You two seemingly are forgetting that VW is paying for the charging infrastructure because it violated the law and cheated on its pollution standards. It would be crazy to allow a cheater to profit from its cheating in any way. This is supposed to be punishment, not enrichment.

Your point would be spot on IF VW was installing the charging of its own volition. But it’s not so they’re not.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Correct. VW is not violating anything. If I understand it, they will not even be implementing it or be part of the logistics.

Now they know there will be a huge infrastructure build out and NOW they have large announcements of new EV product roll outs.

It’s like Martha Stewart knowing inside info and jumping on the bandwagon. They knew they were paying out and it would be for EV infra so they pushed and prioritized their EV/PHEV new products…

Just a SWAG though.


“It would be crazy to allow a cheater to profit from its cheating in any way. This is supposed to be punishment, not enrichment.”

Nope, entirely wrong. Yet another illogical and counter-productive assertion coming from a serial EV basher. The punishment is in forcing VW to pay the fine, not how the money from the fine is being used.

VW’s fine is being directed toward benefiting the public, promoting EV adoption by building out a network of public EV chargers. If VW can figure out a way to benefit from that, then that’s a win-win situation for both the public and VW. Trying to block VW from benefiting from something that benefits the public as a whole would be counterproductive, vindictive, and frankly downright stupid.

If deploying this EV charging network provides incentive for VW to sell more EVs, then that’s exactly what we EV supporters want, and it will benefit the general public by accelerating the EV revolution and helping end polluting and wasteful burning of fossil fuels.

If it also helps motivate VW to sell plug-in EVs rather than “dirty diesel” cars, then that would be an even greater benefit to society as a whole.

Up the EV revolution!


^^^ This. All of it.



This has long been the EPA’s preferred methodology towards obtaining the largest possible settlements to avoid long drawn out court cases.

Yes, VW may be able to benefit from this settlement. And that might have been a reason why VW might have agreed to a larger settlement $$$ value than if this wasn’t the settlement.

But in order to benefit, VW/Audi will have to produce a whole lot of EV’s in order to benefit from the settlement. If they don’t, every one of their competitors who build EV’s will be the ones benefiting instead.

This is somewhat similar to the PepBoy’s settlement where they agreed to sell a while bunch of electric mowers in order to make up for the illegal gas engine scooter and mini-bikes they sold. Sure, PepBoy’s may have benefited from the added store traffic and goodwill the program may have generated. But the settlement ultimately took a bunch of dirty ICE mowers out. This is similar in that it does the same thing. It will help displace ICE cars with EV’s, reducing overall pollution in order to make up for the added pollution VW/Audi’s illegal cars have emitted.


Spending VW’s punishment money on charging infrastructure is ONLY fair if it truly benefits the entire EV driving public unilaterally. That’s the entire question!

Will VW EV owners get free/discounted use of these stations while other EV owners have to pay?

Will the stations be targeted for placement on VW dealership property, or very close to VW dealers?

Will VW agree to fully support the SAE charging standards, or will they come up with something Tesla-like, a new standard, that while technically open for others to use, would be unique, costly, and divide EV owners, instead of unifying them on one charging infrastructure?


You forget the deal with NRG EVGO a few years back. NRG (formerly Enron) had literally gamed the power grid resulting in deaths and then got fined $900 Million.

They negotiated a deal to INVEST $100 million and were forgiven $800 Million.


You’re mostly right, except that despite similarly gaming the deregulation of electricity markets and screwing California and others, NRG was never Enron.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

The subject that seems to get missed all the time when it comes to public charging is having a single unified “Network”. I.e. there are too many you have to be a member/have an account with like EvGo, SemaConnect, Chargepoint, NRG…..etc

Can ther be just one please?????


There can be only one!


@Trollnonymous, I get your frustration at having to be a “member” of the networks, and carry their cards or mobile apps. It would be far simpler if they just took credit cards. I think there is a lack of volume usage to make accepting credit cards at the EVSE worth it.


My guess is that it is more related to how many credit card billing contracts work. Usually there is both a percent of transaction charge, and a per-transaction fixed charge.

A whole lot of small dollar amount credit card charges would cut into their margin quite a bit.

MTN Ranger

Does anyone know if VW is allowed to put their name on these charging stations?

But still, if VW is paying for them, too bad for the other companies.


yes they can on chargers, they have to spend some (not small) amount of money on ZEV “awareness” where they can’t


Right. So if you have to pay fines for traffic violations you should get to put your name on the street? This isn’t really VW’s money. It’s the states’s money which the state got from finding that VW was cheating on the emissions tests.

VW should not under any circumstances be allowed to put its name on the charging stations or profit in any way from its criminal behavior.


That’s the same counter-productive, vindictive attitude which causes people to be thrown in prison without any access to education or training. It pretty much guarantees that when the prisoner gets out, he’ll have to go right back to crime because he has no marketable job skills.

A smarter approach is to give the prisoner at least the option of getting some education and/or skills which might enable him to get a legal job once his sentence is ended.

Trying to playing Big Brother and trying to make sure that Volkswagen can’t possibly find a way to benefit, even in the smallest possible way, from the fine it has to pay, would not be very smart. Much smarter would be to encourage VW to benefit from its public service in any way which will help push it in the direction of making and selling more plug-in EVs and fewer “dirty diesels”!


Benefit?? Prisoners shoudn’t benefit while they are serving out their punishment. They should pick up trash on the side of the highways for FREE. You’d let them get away with murder and then pay them $50/hour to pick up trash while incarcerated. VW can benefit from these free charging stations by letting their customers use them. But they shouldn’t get any preferential treatment beyond that. No advertising, no special charge pricing for VW vehicles, and they should have NO say on where they are placed, CARB should dictate that. Otherwise they’ll all end up at VW dealers.


There are some validity to these claims. But what I would like to see is a Tesla-like network built out (along highways, in between cities, enabling long distance charging). It should support all EV makes (via CCS and CHAdeMO) – so no basis for someone like Ford or BMW to complain. Finally, the ultimate control should be handed over to some third-part to own and operate the stations. That’s the tough one, as I don’t know who it would be. But it doesn’t seem fair for VW’s fines to be used to generate their own private monopoly.


Dont ask me to cry for little baby companies complaing about EV infastructure when they dont want to make EVs in the first place…
Ford raked in over 1 billion in first quater profits I think they can afford to make a charging infastructure if they wanted…

A VW monopoly on charging infastructure? That claim is laughable…


These will be CHAdeMO and CCS HPFC sites that are open for all EVs to fast charge. Tell me how that is a monopoly.


“Finally, the ultimate control should be handed over to some third-part to own and operate the stations. That’s the tough one, as I don’t know who it would be.”

A large network of refueling station already exist in CA (and the rest of the country) – gas stations. Why not partner up with BP or Shell or whoever, and install charging stations at every station, where people are already used to stopping for fuel (and snacks.)


IIRC, that is at least part of what they need to do. I also read in some of the policy requirements that they do need to install DCFC along interstates and other high use corridors on at least 60 (and possibly 100) mile intervals.


“…it doesn’t seem fair for VW’s fines to be used to generate their own private monopoly.”

What monopoly? It’s not like VW is going to set up a Tesla-like network that only VW’s cars can access. This is ignoring reality pretty firmly.

Personally, I’d love to see VW’s network be used to actually establish a true EV charging standard, which I suppose should be CCS but I’m open to other suggestions. Trying to saddle every public charging station installer with having to support both CHAdeMO and CCS would be as foolish as telling videotape player manufacturers that their machines must play both VHS and BetaMAX tapes.

This charging format “war” is holding back EV adoption. It’s past time to pick one format and make it a true standard.

There can be only one!

Bill Howland

The devil is in the details.

Other automakers can conceivably ‘cry foul’ if VW products get a special discount when charging as opposed to charging other brands, but then the counter argument VW’s legal team will say is that “WE PAID FOR IT OURSELVES, and if you don’t like it why don’t YOU PAY for some stations?”

That might finally get GM off-the-dime, if there is direct competition from VW.

Hopefully, the current head of CARP is not as crooked as the one who killed EV’s in California who coincidentally got a $500,000 stipend from BP.

That was the best way for Toyota and Honda to get others to pay for their hydrogen stations for the Mirai’s and Clarity’s that apparently no great numbers of people desire, at least in the States, that is, to be in BP’s ‘Back Pocket’.

Hey they like to call themselves “Beyond Petroleum”.


Maybe her enthusiasm has cooled? In any case, I’ve noticed a subtle shift in policy regarding fuel cells in California. On it’s face, they’re still cheer-leading fuel cell cars but if you look at the policy directions and money movement, there seems to be a subtle but noticeable de-emphasizing of fuel cell technology and hydrogen…at least on the light duty vehicle side. Not so much on heavy duty vehicles.


VW isn’t paying for the infrastructure. It’s paying a fine, which the state has allowed can be used for infrastructure. This isn’t so different than CARB using the fines on gross polluters to fund zero emission vehicles.

Someone out there

Funny how the companies that refused to build charging themselves now complain when someone else does it.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous


I know right!!!!


You don’t have a clue what you are talking about. It is settlement for VW crime, not VW charity for EV fans. As such VW should not gain competitive advantage over competitors from this. If VW wants to own and control these charging stations and land, it can always invest its own money, not settlement money.

The whole idea that the perpetrator decides and controls how to spend settlement money with limited supervision is ludicrous. It should be planned and done by third parties, not even automakers, and VW should pay the bill.


not exactly,
VW will pay 2,9 G$ for NOx emissions where VW don’t have control,
this article on extra 800 M$ that VW will spend in California as part of settlement, while EPA already approved first part of 1200 M$. somehow in CARB there is problem that VW will spent money where it makes sense


WTH are you talking about? This is VW’s own money that their spending! What the settlement is saying is that VW has to build the chargers on their OWN dime! Will they get to keep the profit, well, so what? (I thought I read that EPA and ARB get part of any proceeds in their respective pollution funds but I’m not sure).

In any case, so what? If the other OEMs were so concerned, they should have built their own (and should build their own) networks! This is really just the OEMs saying they don’t want ownership of charging and don’t want to have to compete. Well, that’s just tough cookies dude! (Note: that’s directed at the OEMs, not you).


Agreed, it is a fine, it should be paid to the State/Feds and then distributed to projects that further environmentally sound solutions, whether that be fuel cells or charging stations, etc.

As a company, and as part of their obligation, VW would also have to advertise themself on the benefits of environmentally responsible solutions, whatever that may be (in fact all manufacturers should be required to do this).

It seems at the moment that VW has been penalised to install charging infrastructure that they own and control, which really gives them a Tesla like infrastructure advantage. I hope that is not true and wait to see how it all plays out.


They do have to pay a fine and those agencies will use it for those aims (well, ARB at least, not so sure about EPA anymore). What the settlement is saying is that, in addition to paying the fine, VW has to pay their own money to build EVs, charging, and promote them. This is precisely what regulation is for! You guide companies towards doing the right thing, and when they’re caught doing the wrong thing, you force them (usually through fines and lawsuits, but occasionally there are criminal cases) to do the right thing.

The problem here, essentially, is that because VW is being forced to do the right thing, the other OEMs are basically saying “that’s not fair, now we have to do the right thing sooner than we planned (if they were at all)!” I say “boo hoo” to that (purely sarcastic of course).

zzzzzzzzzzz said: “You don’t have a clue what you are talking about.” We have different goals here. Your goal is to oppose the EV revolution at every possible opportunity. That makes you the outlier and not-so-loyal opposition here, not us. And just who here does or doesn’t have a clue… is a matter of opinion. “It is settlement for VW crime, not VW charity for EV fans.” I realize that a fanatical EV basher like you is really torqued off that the money from VW’s fine is being used to benefit the EV revolution. So far as I’m concerned, that’s a win-win; watching serial EV bashers twist in the wind is a fringe benefit! 😛 I refer you back to what DonC said upstream: “VW isn’t paying for the infrastructure. It’s paying a fine, which the state has allowed can be used for infrastructure. This isn’t so different than CARB using the fines on gross polluters to fund zero emission vehicles.” Now that I entirely agree with. CARB forcing legacy auto makers to spend money on developing zero emission vehicles can be looked at as a “punishment” for selling polluting vehicles, but it also benefits society as a whole by… Read more »

It’s not polite but say ca comment is stupid but sometimes there isn’t a choice. VW didn’t decide to install infrastructure. It committed a crime by grossly polluting. It got caught and the CA forced it to install the alternative fueling infrastructure.

So yeah, everybody can and SHOULD complain if VW will profit in any way from the infrastructure installation. For the same reasons why murderers are legally prohibited from profiting by writing books about their crimes.

Chris O

Not surprised to see the hydrogen lobby move to absorb as much of the funds as possible. Absorbing funds that could otherwise have been used to drive real change is probably just about the nr. 1 motivation behind the hydrogen agenda and boy, has it been successful at that!

I wonder how much damage this lobby still gets to do in its final death throes.


At this point, every dollar spent on public passenger car hydrogen stations, is a dollar spent to keep selling as many ICE cars for as long as possible. Hydrogen fuel cell cars just aren’t displacing ICE cars at a rate that justifies the spending at this point in time.

On the other hand, every dollar spent on EV charging helps expand an already rapidly expanding EV market that is already displacing ICE car sales.


They should be using that money to build hydrogen stations, because….. er because… well, because….


Little help for you: Because they are cheaper for the same throughput and the same length of highway covered, if you’ll bother to look at numbers.



Are you saying that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are cheaper to operate than battery electric vehicles?


I do believe he is.


It certainly looks like that’s what he’s saying.

Hey, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes true, right?

Well actually… no.

Paul de Wit

They are p*ssed. Because it takes away the excuse NOT to make EV’s..


As long as they fast charging DC stations support multiple standards, don’t bill non-VW drivers more, and place the stations on roads everyone uses – let’s get going ahead with this now, okay? Leave fuel cells out of this.


Back when the automotive industry was in its infancy, imagine if the trolley companies objected to gas stations being installed primarily in cities, because “that’s where all the car owners are” (and also where all the trolley passengers are).

That would be a valid “objection”? No, but it is a logical reaction to being scared that someone is coming to eat their lunch.

Today’s gasoline-soaked auto manufacturers want to be coddled by a protectionist policies, pure and simple. They can’t, or don’t want to, compete, so they (literally) road-block.


While I understand your point, the trolley example is not an especially good one since, towards the end of their era, automakers owned the trolleys through shell companies.


I think it’s a fine analogy. Automobile makers didn’t start buying up street car companies until after street cars were already on the wane due to competition from motorcars and motorized omnibuses, and by then an easy target for takeover.

Someone out there

The diesel scandal could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for VW. Since “Electrify America” is a wholly owned subsidiary of VW they could set up some deals specific for VW electric cars like the “No charge to charge” that Nissan does, except now it’s not just at dealers but on the national scale.

Yes, and no. . VW started on their electric car program many years ago. I worked for a company that sells and installs some tooling for “car platform automation”, where they can make an electric car platform, and adjust that in order to make several models, at a serious reduced cost. They invested a tonn of money on this, and have spent “forever” in engineering and computer simulation. When the platforms were more or less ready, they worked on industrialisation, so it can be made highly automated, precise, at a low cost, with the expected quality. VW is very good at that. There is a reason they are the largest manufacturer in the world. Now they have shipped tooling and sub systems for brands like Audi, Skoda and Seat too. The diesel scandal just made them adjust the speed. Funny fact. . . many car brands have diesel engines that emit the same or more then VW. And now scientists have discovered that gasoline engines in general produce serious amounts of micro particles, and have to be fitted with particle filters – just like diesel engines.. Electric cars can not come fast enough. But the overall sales a very low… Read more »

I like your “free internet in coffee shops” analogy (even though it’s not as “free” as it used to be). I’ve often thought that EV charging should be thought of as an amenity that business and public entities should offer rather as just another revenue (read: profit) generating source. IIRC, the CEO of ChargePoint has even said as much.

F150 Brian

The whole way automakers (including Tesla and VW) are involved is wrong. We need a competitive market amoungst energy providers, using standards based interfaces and equal access independent of auto brand. How many times do we need the VHS vs Beta thing repeated before common sense is used?


Everybody can charge at the VW chargers. They use common standards.
Even Teslas can charge there. At least with a converter.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

When it comes to cars, publically we still have different fuel grades of 87, 89, 92 and E85 or Diesel.
Where’s the standard?

Charging EV’s have just J1772, CHAdeMO and CCS.
Tesla is an outlier as it’s proprietary BUT!
They have an adapter for it so it can use the J1772. No need for it to adapt to CHAdeMO or CCS, that would just be a step down for it’s DCFC when there are SC’s strategically placed.


“When it comes to cars, publically we still have different fuel grades of 87, 89, 92 and E85 or Diesel.
“Where’s the standard?”

The standard is that you can pull into literally any public gas station in the USA, put the standardized gas pump nozzle into the fill pipe of your gasmobile, and pump regular unleaded gasoline into it. Most stations also carry the two higher grades of unleaded gasoline you mention.

Gasohol (E85) and diesel are not standard fuels for automobiles, altho of course diesel is standard at truck stops.

Contrariwise, we don’t have a standard for EV charging in any first-world country. We’ve got at least three or even four formats: CCS, CHAdeMO, Tesla Supercharger (USA) and Tesla Supercharger (Europe).

This is even worse than VHS vs. BetaMAX! (Or maybe it’s like VHS vs. BetaMAX with NTSC vs PAL thrown in.)


“California is not achieving its goal of 100 refueling stations installed by 2020.”

If you look at the subtext of this comment, this is a subtle shot at California. Basically, this is politi-speak from Toyota, Honda and Hyundai that says “California is crying poverty and dragging it’s feet rolling out hydrogen refueling.” The “crying poverty” connection is the suggestion that California use VWs money to pay for hydrogen refueling…but I suspect they want California to drop funding for public EV charging all together.

From the article: “Some carmakers don’t like the idea of installing charging stations in EV-rich areas, perceiving it as competitive advantage for Volkswagen.” But instead of competing with Volkswagen by joining together to fund their own fast-charge network, they’re just going to whine about VW doing what they won’t. Things get done the way chosen by the people who show up to do them. (If that’s not a proverb, it ought to be!) * * * * * “The reason for the fuel cell infrastrucutre [sic] investment is a threat of California is not achieving its goal of 100 refueling stations installed by 2020; which is pretty much the first time we have ever heard Toyota, Hyundai or Honda knock the woeful state of the fuel cell refueling infrastructure in California.” But… but… the fool cell fanboys who never fail to post comments to each and every single FCEV related article at InsideEVs, constantly assure us that more and more of these profligately wasteful and stupefyingly expensive (on a per-car basis) hydrogen fueling stations are being built all the time, and that the CaFCP (California Fuel Cell Partnership) is on track to providing as many H2 stations as anyone could… Read more »

VW long ago managed to turn this penalty as positively for them as they can. They chase positive impression with press releases. They are going to switch to EVs (which their own Diesel shenanigans made look like a better alternative) and yes, they of course would use the money to put in chargers where they plan on selling EVs.

And that would be California. I’d love for them to be adventurous about expanding markets but let’s face it they want to get off the ground quickly with EVs. And they’re going to do that by selling to coastal California first.

K A Cheah



Could you stop using all caps? it is really annoying. I think you have written somewhere that your eyes are bad. If that is the case use the dictation feature of the Android or iPhone like a did for this reply.

Or copy your post to a text editor and transform it to lower case before posting.