VW's Electrify America submits electric-car charging plan to EPA, CARB: now what?


BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging

BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging

Volkswagen has submitted a plan for electric-charging infrastructure to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

VW's "Electrify America" plan shows how the automaker would spend funds it is required to commit to zero-emission vehicle infrastructure under the terms of a settlement for its diesel-emissions cheating.

This provision of the diesel settlement has attracted criticism from both right-wing politicians and electric-car advocates, who have said the project will dampen competition.

DON'T MISS: VW pleads guilty to felonies in diesel emission scandal

The deadline for Volkswagen to submit a draft plan was February 22, but that plan was only released to the public this week, by CARB (via HybridCars.com).

The plan calls for VW to spend $200 million in California over the first of four 2.5-year investment cycles, and $300 million outside the Golden State.

As part of the settlement for 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel cars—representing the majority of affected diesels—Volkswagen is expected to spend $2 billion over 10 years on zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, primarily electric-car charging stations.

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI

Under a separate settlement for a smaller number of 3.0-liter V-6 diesels, VW agreed to pay CARB an additional $25 million to promote zero-emission vehicles in California.

Of the funds earmarked for the first investment cycle, $120 million will go directly to charging infrastructure in California.

That includes $65 million for 50 DC fast-charging sites, averaging five individual charging stations per locations.

ALSO SEE: VW opens 'Electrify America' site for comment on $2 billion charging plan (Dec 2016)

These would be rated at 150 kilowatts, but about half would be rated for up to 320 kW, according to the draft VW plan.

That would make the stations competitive with Tesla's Supercharger stations, and "future proof" them against future electric cars with larger battery packs or onboard chargers capable of higher-rate charging.

About half of the 50 fast-charging stations will be placed along the I-5 and US-101 north-south highway corridors, with the balance on intersecting highways.

Energica Eva at Golden Gate Bridge on California 1 tour from LA to San Francisco

Energica Eva at Golden Gate Bridge on California 1 tour from LA to San Francisco

In addition, $40 million will go to local "community" charging infrastructure—including a mix of DC and 240-volt Level 2 AC stations—in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento metropolitan areas.

Around $15 million cover maintenance and some of the operating costs for these stations, although user fees are expected to cover the majority of electricity costs.

All charging infrastructure will be designed to be universally accessible, and in no way favor VW vehicles.

That will mean equipping fast-charging stations with CHAdeMO plugs alongside the CCS plugs used by Volkswagen electric cars (Tesla sells a CHAdeMO adapter allowing cars built for its proprietary Supercharger standard to interface with those stations).

Volkswagen will also make efforts to create a flexible payment structure, perhaps finally finding a way around the myriad cards and fobs electric-car drivers still need to access public charging stations, which are operated by multiple private networks.

As stipulated by California, VW will also spend $44 million for a "Green City Initiative," which will see one California city become a testing ground for new services intended to further reduce emissions, including a ZEV shuttle service, a car-sharing service, and some unspecified application of zero-emission vehicles in public transit.

2015 Nissan Leaf at ChargePoint fast charger at DeCormier Nissan, Manchester, CT [photo John Briggs]

2015 Nissan Leaf at ChargePoint fast charger at DeCormier Nissan, Manchester, CT [photo John Briggs]

Notably, the draft plan does not include any funds for hydrogen fueling infrastructure, something California had advocated for.

Beyond infrastructure, Volkswagen plans to spend $20 million in California and $25 million nationwide on promoting zero-emission vehicles, primarily through television ads.

The automaker has already met some suppliers and reportedly hopes to begin contract negotiations soon.

While network operator ChargePoint loudly criticized the idea of giving VW domain over such a major expansion of charging infrastructure, the automaker is expected to work with existing suppliers to a significant degree.

Additional details about the draft plan will be discussed at a public CARB meeting in Riverside, California, March 24.

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