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Volkswagen Group has been a quite the busy bee when it comes to bolstering EV charging infrastructure.
In addition to breaking ground on Europe’s new fast-charging network before the end of this year (with help from Daimler, BMW, and Ford), the brand’s Electrify America subsidiary is preparing to fulfill a court order that will force it to live up to its name.
A signification portion of VW’s emissions scandal penance involves investment into eco-centric technologies and the beefing up of the United States’ electric vehicle infrastructure. So, on Monday the company announced plans to install 2,800 EV charging stations in 17 of the largest U.S. cities by June of 2019.
While the overarching plan has remained largely the same, blowback from California forced Electrify America to deploy its charging stations more altruistically. Volkswagen initially proposed spending its first $120 million on 400 highway and community charging stations, but the California Air Resources Board pressed it to “make every attempt” to reserve 35 percent of its first 30-month investment cycle for disadvantaged communities “disproportionately affected by air pollution.”
The 2,800 forthcoming charging stations will now be located in roughly 500 locations, with around 75 percent of those at workplaces and the rest at multifamily dwellings — such as apartment buildings. The remaining locations will likely go to high-traffic areas seeing more frequent use.
“There hasn’t been a significant catalyst yet for ramping up the number of charging stations,” Scott Fisher, Greenlots’ vice president of market development, told Reuters. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to help create the electric vehicle infrastructure we need across the U.S.”
However, the argument could be made that Volkswagen’s earliest charging stations could do more good for advancing alternative powertrains if they’re situated in more affluent areas. While poor communities should definitely have access to the sites, it’s the financially secure that are coming out as early adopters of the new tech.
“One of the biggest barriers to the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles is access to chargers,” Mark McNabb, chief executive officer of Electrify America, said in a statement from November.
The VW subsidiary said it has selected SemaConnect, EV Connect, and Greenlots to install the stations. In total, $800 million will be spent in California for a total of $2 billion nationwide as part of Volkswagen’s post-emissions cheating agreement. The sum will be broken down into four 30-month periods over the next 10 years.