It Seems A Fight Is A Brewin’ Over VW Dieselgate Settlement Money


It’s all about where the money will be spent.

The struggle between metropolitan and highway installations versus rural and low-income or disadvantaged communities will be the biggest issue on how to spend the dieselgate funds.

The Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, in the end, brought a lot of good to the automotive and to the world in general. The company, albeit heavily hit by the financial repercussions of the dieselgate compensations and fines, is on its path to an electrified future. With a whole slew of electric models scheduled for the next few years, the German carmaker is going all in on the battery-powered future. And we’re not so sure that would have happened so quickly without the dieselgate scandal.

Furthermore, the dieselgate compensation, issued to the states affected by sales of vehicles with emission defeating devices is bringing forth the charging and other infrastructure that would probably take a longer amount of time to get installed otherwise. And among the states leading the charge to an eco-friendly future is California – a state that has led the nation in the push to electrify the vehicles on its roads.

However, all is not that peachy in the land of sunshine. Due to the California Air Resources Board discovery of Volkswagen diesel cars had been programmed to fake better emissions during smog testing, the carmaker was ordered to pay an $800 million settlement with the State of California. And now, it seems there is not a unified idea on how to actually spend that money.

Certainly, the first round of investment of that money helped pay for new electric transit vehicles and chargers throughout the state of California. And that was a clear-cut decision that everyone could get behind of. But now, with the Air Resources Board is looking at how to invest the next $200 million from that settlement, the things get a little blurry.

The Air Resources Board plan calls for a heightened number of metropolitan and highway installation. However, not all agree and some critics are saying it doesn’t go far enough for people living in both low-income or disadvantaged communities, but also, in more rural and suburban communities. This comes as an even harder argument, as half of the money, $95-$115 million, will go to fast-charging stations in metro areas if the plan is approved.

“The plan can be improved by striving to ensure that more than 35 percent of investments are in low-income or disadvantaged communities,” says The Greenlining Institute in a letter to the board.

But still, for manufacturers like General Motors Co. – who wholeheartedly disagree with the investment proposal – more emphasis should be put on the charging infrastructure in metropolitan and urban areas. But this is nothing out of the ordinary. After all, GM’s recently introduced long-range Bolt EV needs a more urban-oriented infrastructure and a more city-based infrastructure, along with highway, installation as more important.

The final decision by the CARB (California Air Resources Board) will be made through a December 7 meeting, where stakeholders will get to make their claim, translating into a December 13 and 14 board vote where they will decide whether to approve or modify/disapprove the plan. However, whatever happens, the citizens of California are certainly going to benefit from the funding one way or the other. It just remains to be seen which one in the end.

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61 Comments on "It Seems A Fight Is A Brewin’ Over VW Dieselgate Settlement Money"

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The cars would only engage pollution controls when it was being tested. They analyzed the test procedure and programmed the cars to know they were being tested. Not to put to fine a point on it, they cheated the test, and now they are paying for it. I won’t give them any credit for doing what they been ordered to do as a result of the settlement.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“GM’s recently introduced long-range Bolt EV needs a more urban-oriented infrastructure and a more city-based infrastructure, along with highway, installation as more important.”

In other words, GM wants someone else to pony up support for their product.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

In other words, the Bolt charges relatively slowly, and they don’t want the money to go towards helping better long-distance BEVs.

Trips over 200miles are a fraction of a percent of travel miles and trips taken. Why cater to a minority use case?

Charging at home is the majority case. All fast charging is the minority case.

The goal of fast charging is to support the most of these minority events as possible.

Slower charging regional travel vehicles can charge on more powerful chargers just fine. The same is not true for long distance EVs charging on slower chargers.

You’ve neglected to mention a third category: drivers who cannot charge at home. In my opinion, these are the drivers that the majority of the dieselgate money should go towards, as (unlike the high-end market) there doesn’t seem to be any other viable source of private funding to build chargers for them.

If they can’t charge at home or at work, then why in the world would they buy a plug-in EV? That’s as absurd as someone who doesn’t live in Venice buying a motorboat for daily personal transportation.

There will come a day when L2 chargers are found everywhere people park at night. Driving a BEV will then fit the lifestyle of everyone living in first-world countries. That day is not today, nor tomorrow.

While I’m not saying you’re wrong, your statement is incompatible with a world in which:

– PHEVs and FCVs go extinct, and the only ZEVs/plug-ins are BEVs
– ICE does not continue to dominate the auto market

Most posters here are passionately anti-FCV, and a good chunk are also anti-PHEV. So if we don’t take steps like building thousands upon thousands of L2 chargers, there are millions of cars that BEVs will never displace, and we are doomed to continue relying heavily on gasoline for the indefinite future.

Thank you 🙏 push.

Which is why I propose spending the VW dieselgate money on widespread L2 or lower power DCFC everywhere.

I agree. What I call medium power DCFC in the range of 20-40 kW of power is a missing piece of the puzzle. I think 24 kW DCFC got a bad rap early on because it was misdeployed as high speed travel chargers. Clearly the current batch of 120 and higher kW chargers much better fill that need. However, a 24 kW DCFC still has a purpose as it fills the recharge speed gap between L2, which is capped at recharging 30 MPH and ultra high speed travel chargers which can recharge as fast as 600 MPH. Medium speed DCFC facilitates both the power to recharge 80-160 MPH and the flexibility to recover a decent amount of recharging mileage in shorter timeframes. For example consider a typical commercial strip mall power circuit of 208V at 200 amps. At continuous charge power that circuit can deliver 33.3 kWh of power in an hour which can recharge up to 133 miles of range in an hour when the car gets 4 miles/kWh of efficiency. Now while everyone won’t be parked at that strip mall for an hour, getting back 66 miles of charge in a 1/2 hour would be helpful to a… Read more »

Drivers that can’t charge at home won’t buy an EV unless infrastructure is up to par

Which means L2 chargers should be ubiquitous.

Not only L2, but mixed in with cost effective medium power DCFC up to 40 kW or so. The upcoming EV options will virtually to a car have over 200 miles of range and DCFC charging capability. So charging on a daily basis won’t be a crucial as the first wave of sub 100 mile range EVs. DCFC can refill while folks are shopping, at the gym, and running other typical errands. That infrastructure needs to be ubiqutious, flexible in charging speed (which rules out L2), and cost effective (which rules out high speed travel chargers).

L2 alone isn’t going to cut it. The premise of L2 is that it recharges at a max rate that’ll completely refill the car in a 6-12 hour timeframe. That’s fine for overnight home charging, and works well for work shifts. But the timing of the rest of the time with drivers and their cars are too chaotic to depend on having hours of time to recharge. The flexibility of being able to recharge faster in a cost effective matter is equally as important as widespread availability.


Many people do not have on-premise parking available to them. They will be forced to park on the street. They are likely to prefer the ICE way of driving (drive till empty, then fill up quickly).

Having said that, the combination of two emerging technologies opens interesting possibilities. Self-driving cars could take care of charging themselves on wireless charging stations.

What if they could charge anytime and everywhere they park?

As long as there is flexibility in charging speed and costs. Sometimes there will be time to park at an L2 as the driver will be doing something else. But sometimes being able to grab some energy in a shorter timeframe is more important. And of course when travelling, the recharge speed is the dominant factor. We rreally need to think about charging less of a fast/slow position and more of a energy/time/cost optimization. Sometimes fast and expensive will work while other times slow and free is fine. Other times folks will need a decent recharge without spending too much money while getting groceries. It’s simply not going to be the same situation for every driver every time. In fact it won’t even be the same situation for the same driver all the time. EV drivers need options and flexibility, not rigidity and limitations of either costs or speed. The public charging infrastructure needs a widely deployed mix of high power, medium power, and low power charging options with an equally wide range of cost options. Sometimes I’m perfectly happy spending 90 minutes wandering a mall while charging on an L2 for free. I’d be equally happy with a 20… Read more »

Because that’s the main time users with a longer range ev need a charger if they home charge. With my Bolt and home charging, I have no need for urban or metro area chargers. I can do all those trips with charging at home. When I need charging is if I take a trip. Right now in Colorado there are few dcfc available and the Bolt stays home when I do trips longer than 150 miles in the winter or 220 in the summer. For those I either use a E350 or a Volt.

I won’t get rid of my gas vehicles until there is reliable interstate dcfc. If you look at my e350 it has no pollution controls, no smoke map, no cats, no blue tech, btw it came that way from the factory. That’s the vehicle you want off the road, but right now there is no way to replace it with an ev.

“Why cater to a minority use case?”

Uh… for the same reason that gas stations are built along highways far from any sizable city? That, also, is a “minority use case”.

This particular minority case comes with an oversized leverage impact. The whole range thing reminds of the rather common human reaction of ‘well I might need that some day’. I’ll give you a real example of this ‘but I might need that’ mentality. We had a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan. It happened to have a hitch on it. Exactly 1 time in over 100,000 miles driven we used the hitch to tow a small trailer 400 miles for an extended camping trip. So in 2011 we buy a new van and I made sure to purchase the tow package (receiver hitch and trailer lights wiring). Guess how many times over the next 7 years and 180,000 miles we used that hitch. ZERO. In fact we had another minivan prior to the 1999 I mentioned. It also went in excess of 100,000 miles with no trailer need. So altogether 3 vans, 16 years, and about 400,000 miles and we pulled exactly uno trailers. That sort of lack of solid reasoning (on my part) is rampant with nearly everything. And this is why rural chargers are so important. Not because they are especially needed more there from a usage standpoint, but the… Read more »

That’s what rentals are for.

I believe you missed the psychological aspect of the discussion. For many people, their car is an extension of their personality. Part of that is making sure their car checks all the boxes. It’s emotional, not logical. People simply are not going to buy a car that doesn’t meet their expectation, even if that expectation is a corner case, or if there are other option available, such as renting.

As Tom correctly pointed out, that’s the reason why folks commute alone in crew cab pickups with AWD. It’s a complete waste for the average case with neither a crew nor a need for AWD. But the driver has a corner case in their head that makes them identify with their vehicle.


“Better long-distance BEVs” that currently exist already have their own exclusive fast-charging network. Why should the dieselgate money go to providing even more benefits for luxury car drivers?

Solving the chicken-and-the-egg dilemma requires both chickens and eggs. Not just one or the other.

Arguing that Electrify America shouldn’t serve more expensive long-range BEVs is as silly as asserting farmers shouldn’t waste money feeding chickens because it’s eggs they want.

A better analogy would be “feeding a group of chickens that are near-starvation and have little means to forage for their own food” vs. “feeding a group of healthy and robust chickens who have plenty of food (but not unlimited food) readily available.”

In any case, outside of the luxury market that already has plentiful charging available, GM’s Bolt IS the “better long-distance BEV.” So if the dieselgate money isn’t targeted towards solutions that are good for the Bolt, then either it has to be targeted towards solutions that are good for BEVs that have less range and/or less national availability, or targeted at making the rich richer (both figuratively and literally).

That is the author’s commentary, – not necessarily GM’s official position. I’m satisfied with the existing infrastructure for my 2017 Bolt ev. I’m more pissed at GM for discontinuing most of their electrics (including good ones, like the VOLT and ELR), and fully expect GM to discontinue their sole remaining EV the first month it doesn’t break sales records, and/or the tax credit expires.

After all, GM discontinued the VOLT without ANY replacement; the best selling plug-in of all time to date in the states currently. How dumb is that? If they offered the car in more countries, and/or offered right hand steering for those countries which require it, the car would sell far better than it even is. The Gen 1 version was offered with it, so I see no insurmountable technical issues as to why it couldn’t be done again. The main problem is that with the retirement of Bob Lutz – there is no one at GM to fight for electric vehicles.

All the executives currently talk vaguely about how ‘important’ evs are, but then discontinue them.

The ELR isn’t particularly good (and sold poorly). The Volt being discontinued was a surprise to me, especially given they didn’t have even a spiritual successor (like in an SUV).
Seems like a repeat of the EV1 history where only a few in the company is enthusiastic about plug-ins and as soon as they are out, the rest of the company abandons it.

A large SUV with voltec architecture that was capable of going 30 miles on pure EV would have been wonderful for the customers.

Voltec in a SUV that does 70 miles in AER since it was going to be a bigger battery and bolt drivetrains

Jakey you don’t know what you are talking about. I own a 2014 ELR and it is one of the best cars I’ve ever owned and still turns heads to this day.

Not particularly Good? Car & Driver said it was the best handling hybrid (plug or not) they had tested to date, and it seemed much faster than the specs would indicate.

It also sold more copies than the Tesla Roadster (which I traded in to get the car) made over several years when the ELR was prematurely discontinued in one o f GM’s dopiest decisions after only 12 months of manufacture. Right up there with discontinuing the popular VOLT without announcing a replacement.

There are no deliberate wear items in the powertrain (some GEN1 volts having identical power trains have gone hundreds of thousands of miles with no overhaul), and the ‘kid-gloves’ treatment of the parts should make the basic car last a very long time.

And that is why it was dumb of you to support GM and diss Tesla, something you did consistently for last 5 years.

Yeah I’m going to replace my Volt

If that was to me, Dr., (I hope it wasn’t), it indicates you are bipolar, first saying nice things and then being hateful.

I enjoyed my experience of ownership of my Tesla Roadster. But plenty here clearly have trouble with reading comprehension.

To indicate otherwise is to say that I love spending $120,000 on cars that I hate.

The network is supposed to be automaker agnostic and support all BEVs. That should also include existing generation short range vehicles.

Plug-in EVs which can’t do DC fast-charging need destination chargers, not DC fast chargers. As Tesla has shown, the placement of those should be different types of locations than DCFC stations.

There may be a good argument to be made for some of the Electrify America funds to go to building destination chargers, but let’s not mix up the two use cases.

Yelp. What does GM have to do with this article

How come none of the money has been allocated to Tesla Superchargers?

This is the biggest selling BEV brand since the beginning, and looks to stay that way for at least another few years, for definite. After that… Tesla will still be trying to be the biggest selling brand… VW-funded Superchargers would not be wasted money.

Tesla could switch over to CCS and solve that issue. And Tesla cars can currently use L2 or ChaDeMo with adapters.

🙏🙏🙏🙏 charge premium for out of network. I will pay

When Tesla opens Supercharger access to all EV’s, it might make sense for VW’s money to be used to install more Superchargers. However, this money should not be used to install public chargers that can be used by only 1 EV brand.

Agreed ….but this is not VW’s money.

They have… just not for FREE.

How about to develop a CCS to Tesla adapter…

Because it makes more sense to invest what is essentially public money into an open charging system, rather than a proprietary one. It’s up to Tesla to allow it’s vehicles to charge using an open standard, rather than public money being used to expand a private charging system.

Government regulation has already forced Tesla to do this in Europe, perhaps it should be done in North America too?

Why is there a fight? Chargers placed in disadvantaged communities will simply get vandalized for the aluminum and copper. How many poor people will buy EVs? None.

0 if you don’t provide them with the infrastructure.

I think in europe you need to bring your own cable from car to EVSE. That’s the part that could be chopped off and “recycled” easily—the charger itself is much harder and happens to have 400V+ in it.

I wish we had the same setup here.

Sounds like a pain in the butt.

And what traveler in his/her right mind would stop to recharge for an hour or so in a “disadvantaged community”? Unless the EV is armored and battle-ready, of course.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Typical CA politicians. Didn’t I tell you they would try and squander the funds for their little projects. We’ll be lucky to see 33.333% of that actually used for transportation or EV adoption.

The way things are going with the EPA rolling back emission standards on coal plants to allow them to emit 35% more pollution than the current law approves how long will it be before they do the same with car emissions and have to give that money back?

It needs to be highway DCFC to accommodate long distance travel. Many people already have a charging station at home.

The low income communities are already hot the hardest from poor air quality from truck and highway traffic, so putting EV infrastructure here helps those communities at a local level with air quality in a true restorative justice fashion after VW poisoned the air. These are also places least likely to have access to home charging, so public charging is essential to getting EVs in these communities.

Instead of putting in few expensive high power DCFC, how about just installing thousands of destination level 2 chargers. Or less expensive 22kW DCFC?

Because that isn’t going to create a network that will provide charging speeds fast enough to convince mass market ICE buyers to switch to EVs

Right. Building a nationwide EV charging network should be built with near-future charging abilities in mind, and not be limited by the cars currently on the market.

“And now, it seems there is not a unified idea on how to actually spend that money.”

Sounds like business as usual.

It should go to EVs and chargers in the cities where most of the diesel pollution damage occurred.

Rebates for home charging and more CCS and post 120v chargers at light post in low income areas

Low income won’t buy EVs for years to come. That’s 3k budget, so even insanely depreciared EVs do not cut it.
Sub urbs have power outlets in their garages.