When it comes to carbon emissions, there's more to consider than what comes out of a car's tailpipe (if it has one).
For buyers looking to cancel out the emissions involved in producing, delivering, and charging plug-in cars, carbon offset programs could be the answer.
Now the Volkswagen Group has announced a carbon-offset program for its upcoming 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf electric car and 2016 Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid.
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Under this scheme, a manufacturer invests in a project that's intended to reduce emissions somewhere else in the world, cutting total carbon by at least the amount imposed by the manufacture and operation of the two vehicles.
Audi and Volkswagen will partner with 3Degrees to invest in carbon-reduction programs to offset production of the cars, as well as the estimated emissions of recharging for up to 36,000 miles for the e-Golf or 50,000 miles for the A3 e-tron (in both electric and gasoline operation).
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf (Euro spec) - Driven, Portland OR, July 2014 (credit: NWAPA)
Audi will invest in two unspecified projects, one in the U.S. and another in Africa.
The VW-sponsored projects include conservation efforts at the Garcia River, Big River, and Salmon River forests in Mendocino County, California, protecting these areas from encroachment. A third project will capture gases from a closed landfill in McKinney, Texas.
ALSO SEE: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf: Drive Report, First U.S. Sale Details
In addition to the carbon offset program, both Audi and Volkswagen will offer home solar systems through SunPower. This will offer the e-Golf and A3 e-tron owners a renewable energy source for their home charging.
Photovoltaic solar panels have proven very popular among owners of plug-in electric cars, based on surveys of California electric-car owners conducted over the last three years.
Bosch will install the 240-volt Level 2 charging stations for the VW and Audi buyers.
The station will be offered for free with the A3 e-tron, although owners will still have to pay for the installation. Volkswagen did not specify the pricing for its charging station.