It has been nearly a year and a half since Volkswagen got caught cheating over the emissions of its TDI diesel vehicles. While the automaker has already remedied the situation with many owners through an ongoing buyback program—and even made amends with dealers—it still has some important steps to complete in making good with U.S. regulators.
That includes $2 billion to be spent on promoting green energy and electric cars in a project that, under terms of the settlement, must be paid for and administered by VW but not of particular benefit only to VW. The money is to be spent over 10 years, in four different 30-month periods. California gets 40 percent of it—$800 million total—and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been specific about how its chunk of the money is to be spent. As of this week, the entity that is in charge of managing that project nationally now has an official name: Electrify America.
Electrify America will operate as a stand-alone organization led by Mark McNabb, who previously was the vice president of charging provider NRG EVgo and director for electric-vehicle sales and infrastructure at Nissan North America.
On December 9, Volkswagen launched the Electrify America website, which functioned initially as a portal for collecting and accepting proposals. January 16 was the deadline for proposals for the first 30-month cycle, and VW is due to present its plan for the first cycle on February 22. Proposals for the subsequent three investment cycles can be submitted on a rolling basis.
“The organization also will build brand-neutral awareness of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) through education and outreach to promote their increased adoption in the United States,” said the organization in its inaugural press release.
The centerpiece of the organization’s efforts, in this first cycle, will include installing more than 300 Level 2 and DC fast-charging stations in 15 metro areas and developing a high-speed cross-country charging network with more than 200 DC fast-charging stations. In a California location not yet announced, it will launch a Green City initiative for testing of future sustainable-mobility concepts such as an all-electric shuttle service or car-sharing program.