By on June 16, 2017

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

As part of its emissions cheating penance, Volkswagen AG previously agreed to support clean vehicles by injecting a juicy $2 billion into green initiatives in the United States. A whopping $800 million of that sum was reserved for California. On Thursday, state legislators pressed the automaker to spend electric charging infrastructure funds in low-income areas, passing a bill included in a budget package supported by Governor Jerry Brown.

The reasoning behind forcing VW to install more charging stations in disadvantaged communities is twofold. First, and most obviously, is the fact that poorer neighborhoods typically don’t receive the same level of infrastructure advancement as affluent or high traffic areas. In fact, they’re probably the last place the state would bother installing EV charging stations. Secondly, it’s a good way to keep this punishment from becoming a business opportunity.

Criticism arose when rival automakers realized Volkswagen’s charging network could become profitable and give it an early advantage in a competitive new market, especially if it could handpick the sites. 

Volkswagen initially proposed spending $120 million on about 400 highway and community charging stations by 2019. However, the locations it chose were often the same pieces of real estate competitors may have desired. While these stations would definitely have seen regular use, state officials have made it clear they want to promote clean cars in poorer communities.

Last month, the California Air Resources Board told VW to “make every attempt” to reserve 35 percent of its first 30-month investment cycle for disadvantaged communities “disproportionately affected by air pollution,” according to Reuters. Still, fears remained that Volkswagen would simply ignore the plea.

The California bill makes that 35 percent mandatory and requires the board of directors to approve all plans relating to the charging network to be approved at public hearings. It also provides additional oversight for VW’s Electrify America — the unit responsible for the infrastructure project. While we cannot authoritatively say Volkswagen would not have adhered to CARB’s initial appeal to support economically downtrodden areas, Electrify America’s photo of a gentleman wearing trendy salmon-colored slacks while charging his car suggests it might not have been their first priority. All things considered, California passing legalization on the matter was probably in its best interest.

Governor Brown has not yet signed the bill, though he has previously indicated his full support the budgeting package.

[Image: Electrify America]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

62 Comments on “California Demands VW Build Electric Charging Stations in Poor Neighborhoods...”

  • avatar

    This is pointless. There are no EVs on BHPH lots.

  • avatar

    This just goes to show how out of touch the politicians are in this state. The charging stations will be vandalized within the first 24 hours.

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to post the same thing.

      Hey you, you know your colors aren’t allowed on our street. We’re going to hook you up to the car charger and make you dance homes…

    • 0 avatar

      I am glad I longer live there. Their stupidity has no limits:

  • avatar

    Somebody will get electrocuted trying to pirate the juice for their household service.

  • avatar

    There are a number of interesting elements here

    1) the notion that it would be bad if VW were able to leverage this into a strategic win. One assumes that if VW had wanted to spend this much money on electric infrastructure they would have done so. They are doing it now because the have to, and are just trying to optimize the spend. So now CARB says make them waste the money by forcing them to place them where there will be little demand.

    2) which brings me to the second point, now and probably for at least 5-10 more years, electric cars are more likely to be owned by relatively higher income individuals. Many/most are held as second or 3rd cars. Or more succinctly, if you can only afford one car, its probably not going to be an electric as their utility is less. Also, its much less convenient to own an electric car if you live in an apartment. If you have do all your charging at a public charge station – that not convenient.

    3) Often, poor air quality is due to topography, wind, industry. While encouraging electric cars in that area might help, it might help more to place the charging stations where they’ll get a lot of use and reduce the overall burden. Hard to know, but its relatively certain that placing stations where they wont get used much isnt going to help anything.

    I think that CARB, like a lot of govt agencies, is prone to mission creep.

    • 0 avatar

      > if you can only afford one car, its probably not going to be an electric as their utility is less

      That’s precisely what they’re trying to change by placing chargers in lower-income areas. There’s already plenty of places to recharge you car in the wealthier California cities and suburbs. This will assure there is a second and third life for off-lease and traded-in Leafs, Bolts, and various EV versions of ICE cars that are currently for sale. And the secondhand market should include lower-income areas just as it does for gasoline-powered cars.

      But something needs to be done soon about incompatible charging standards and the big question as to where apartment and high-rise dwellers can juice up.

      • 0 avatar

        Every EV sold in the USA can charge overnight with the standard J1772 connector.

        Every EV sold in the USA that can fast charge can do so with either a CCS or CHAdeMO connector. Most locations include both, just like most gas stations offer 3 grades of gasoline plus diesel.

        That was easy!

  • avatar

    Just goes to show that they really don’t care about actually improving the environment with EVs. They just want to control what we drive and punish evil corporations.

  • avatar

    So why does California get 40% of the gravy? Is it proportional to VW diesel sales?

    • 0 avatar

      I believe it is proportional to prior EV sales. Of course, we probably need the chargers more where people have been reluctant to adopt EVs due to scarce publicly available charging infrastructure. *shrugs*

  • avatar

    So CA is powerful enough to ‘force’ a company to do something or else?

    It’s a wonder that any business would stay in CA with that attitude along with CA’s high taxes and various cumbersome laws/rules/regulations.

    Then again, many businesses have left CA, like Toyota which is in TX now.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re kidding, right?

      No other states have regulations on corporations?


      No other state can tell any other business do this or else????


      • 0 avatar

        Wise up, AP. California’s regulatory regimen is extreme. It is, in fact, driving industry out of the state. Don’t be surprised when Tesla moves out of its Fremont, CA NUMMI factory into/near the Nevada battery factory. Nevada is a right-to-work state, where Elon Musk will have an easier time keeping unions out.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah it’s so bad for corporations here in CA it’s home of some of the most valuable in the world (Chevron, Google, Apple).

    • 0 avatar

      California residents are leaving for other states in droves, including high-tech workers. Just ask the realtors in Texas.

      • 0 avatar

        You might wish it were so, but it isn’t.

        According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, California’s GDP grew by 4.1% in 2015, (tied with Oregon for top place among the 50 states), while population grew by 0.9% (16th in the country).

        The Census Bureau calculates 2010-2016 population growth at 5.36%, 17th in the country and significantly above the nation figure of 4.66%.

        California is in fact doing much better than most other states.

  • avatar
    George B

    Lets install lots of copper wire outdoors at ground level in poor neighborhoods. What could possibly go wrong?

  • avatar

    Nice Pants.

  • avatar

    But will they accept food stamps?

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    I am absolutely shocked that manipulation of the free market for the proliferation of EV vehicles has reached such levels…. And that EV’s still aren’t a viable business model.

    Cannot believe that people will buy these cars just to be exempt from certain laws…
    1) Headlights/taillights/turn signals not required after dark (Leaf)
    2) Keep right except to pass (Prius)
    3) Drive around like bigger pricks than Porsche owners (Tesla)

    Full Disclosure: I live in Seattle, where a hundred of each of the above vehicle can be observed in a given day. These observations are the norm, not the exception, of driving habits by vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      Hydroelectric power gives the state of Washington the lowest average electric rates in the nation. California is seventh highest, more than double the Washington rate, exceeded only by the northeast states plus Alaska and Hawaii.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m really confused. I thought the law in Washington was “Keep Right to Pass”? Whenever I cross the border from Oregon, I’ve got to move from the far left to the far right lane to continue at the speed limit.

      The only car slower than the Prius is the beige Corolla. Thankfully they’ve been barred from interstates, so they can just hold me up in city traffic.

  • avatar

    It will be easier to get raped, robbed, murdered, & carjacked, all compliments of the fools running things in Commiefornia.

    • 0 avatar

      Hanging around for 30+ minutes, essentially captive, for a car to charge in an “economically challenged” neighborhood sounds like a very bad plan. Unless EV’s come with a concealed carry permit I think these chargers will just collect dust.

      • 0 avatar

        These stations might be next generation and you might be able to squeeze in 80 miles in 5 minutes (if you have a car that can handle that kind of charge rate – which many upcoming VW products are capable of), then get out of dodge. You only have to stay long enough to charge enough to get to a charger in a safer area.

        However, in my personal experience, charging stations in sketchy areas are in fact vandalized and are never repaired.

  • avatar

    Ah, political correctness. Moonbeam & co. are demanding $280 million worth of charging stations in neighborhoods whose residents cannot afford vehicles that can use them, and where people living outside said neighborhoods are never going to enter, much less hang around waiting for their batteries to charge. I guess you have to be a hard left progressive for it to make sense.

    Rather than submit to the micromanagement why couldn’t VW just write a check for $800 million and call it a day? The politicians can make a big spectacle over the state getting their “reparations”, promise the ignorant a grand charging infrastructure, and the when no one’s looking steal the money to plug holes in their budget.

  • avatar

    California can suck it.

  • avatar

    How many people will get killed by this stupid move? Way more than were harmed by the Nox of the dirty VW diesels, but let me count the ways:

    – EV navigation system points an unsuspecting EV driver to nearest recharging point in dangerous neighborhood, and with a near flat battery is forced to endure 15-45 minutes of exposure in a dangerous place.
    – EV navigation system points an unsuspecting EV driver with a near flat battery to nearest recharging point in a dangerous neighborhood, and driver finds the recharging station has been stripped of its copper cable and is inoperable, leading to up to several hours of exposure to a dangerous place awaiting a tow truck.
    – Poor citizen with a cheap Leaf is forced to recharge in dangerous local recharging spot, gets car-jacked/robbed and shot (most crime is poor on poor).
    – Local gang-bangers get electrocuted when attempting to vandalize local recharging station.
    – VW executives die of heart-attack when served with lawsuits by families of EV owners and gang-bangers killed while recharging/vandalizing a VW recharging station in a bad neighborhood.

    • 0 avatar

      @stingray65: Oh no! the sky is falling! Who will stop this evil! Guess what, people get gas in sketchy areas and people get robbed at gas stations in sketchy areas. Gas station attendants get robbed. It happens if you have an EV or gas. And guess what, gang bangers can get hurt vandalizing gas pumps. At least with a charging station, the power isn’t turned on unless it’s connected to a car and the entire system and the connection pass diagnostics.

      Maybe you should worry more about the day when gas stations start getting scarce and you run out of gas in the wrong area. Get ready for ICE range anxiety. It’s in your future. You’ll be looking for gas and pull into the convenience store where you filled up the previous week and find the pumps replaced by ChargePoint 400kW chargers because the maintenance on the rusting tanks wasn’t worth the cost anymore.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes people gas up in sketchy areas, but its 5 minutes of exposure versus 20+++ minutes recharging, plus the gas station usually has an attendant that could be calling the police/ambulance if a customer is being robbed/shot while filling the tank. The attendant is also why gas pumps in sketchy areas rarely get vandalized, but an unmanned EV recharging station is an invitation for someone to strip copper wire or just be destructive for the hell of it. Yes the power is turned off until connected to the car, but I expect the power is live all the time inside the charging terminal, so someone stripping copper could very well end up getting seriously juiced – you can’t assume that gang-bangers are smart enough to use insulated tools and clothing.

        I also expect the first gas stations to close down due to the popularity of alternative powered vehicles will likely be those in high crime areas, so filling your tank there will not be possible – but with 400+ miles of range it should usually be possible to find a pump in a better part of town. I do agree with you that in 20-30 years it might get pretty tough to find a gas station anywhere if EVs or hydrogen or something else becomes dominant, but according to the experts we’ll all be riding in self-driving Uber taxis by then anyway, so refueling issues will be the problem of the Uber fleet manager.

  • avatar

    Social Justice Warriors to the rescue!

  • avatar

    But can I also get a payday advance and a pound of blue crab at this charging station…?

    Okay, I’m finished now.

  • avatar

    California in a nutshell:

    A bunch of government twits shaking down someone else, for money they can use to pretend they care about someone besides themselves and their petty careers.

    And a gaggle of ambulance chasers crying foul, since, horrors-of-horrors, someone other than themselves may benefit from the shakedown…

    That’s pretty much all that is left of a once supposedly decent place.

    Aside from the weather, of course. The idiot brigade haven’t been able to mess that up yet. Although I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, before they get suckered into handing some billions to the first “Climate-Engineering” startup being hawked by some halfliterate on Sand Hill Road. With George Clooney as spokesperson. And whose the ambulance chasers claim holds patents on good weather. Hence run around suing the rest of the world’s fair weather locations for “violating.”

    • 0 avatar

      California is the future. If you want to know how future will look like – come visit California. Or any college in other states.

      • 0 avatar

        Stop scaring us! They’ll grow up, possibly before too much damage is done. Remember what Winston Churchill said: “if you’re not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at forty, you have no head”, or it’s up your butt so far it’s a wonder you can breathe.

  • avatar

    They could use the copper.

  • avatar

    What next, Jerry Brown? Require Church’s Chicken to open in Beverly Hills??

  • avatar

    I can see both sides, but, isn’t there a better idea? Instead of building standalone electric charging stations, why not add these to existing gas station mini-mart locations? Add a couple of charging stations off to the side, where cars could be left. The stations would have to be 24/7 locations, and would have (or could add) surveillance cameras.

    Charging stations will naturally become more ubiquitous as the electrification of cars increase, but what’s the point of building standalone stations without any idea of how many people will use them?

    • 0 avatar

      Fast charging on a long trip usually takes 15 to 40 minutes. My impression is that 40 minutes in a gas station is a really long time, while 40 minutes in a shopping and entertainment facility with a Starbucks, a bookstore, or a chain discount store can go by very fast!

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Master Baiter: You might be able to cheat the government for a while by purchasing an EV, but rest assured, even if...
  • zerofoo: Near as makes no difference 80 grand for an old engine in a vehicle that doesn’t benefit much from it....
  • WalterRohrl: Haha, yeah, just…no. People here have figured you out, most just won’t waste the time on you...
  • EBFlex: Imagine a company with such a poor track record with quality, especially with electronics, making an electric...
  • EBFlex: “ And I’m the one that gets called out for snark. Ha!” As you should

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber