Part of Volkswagen's $15 billion Dieselgate settlement is a $2 billion contribution to the growth of green-car infrastructure. Sounds great, right? Well, if you're one of the 28 EV charging station companies that sent a letter to the US Department of Justice this week, perhaps it's not so great, although the reasoning behind it isn't necessarily sound.
This group, including ChargePoint and the Electric Vehicle Charging Association, is concerned about Volkswagen's $2 billion "donation," because it could tip the scales in VW's favor going forward, Reuters reports. They're worried that the money could actually harm competition.
"The agreement shouldn't pick winners and losers, especially given that this emerging market transition will in no small part define 21st century transportation," the letter reportedly says. The group is proposing an independent overseer for this contribution, so that it can be distributed and used fairly.
Volkswagen declined to comment.
Here's the thing, though. What exactly is their concern? That VW will magically convince the EPA and CARB, both of which are charged with overseeing that $2 billion "donation," to install a bunch of chargers that somehow only work with VW vehicles? Or maybe they'll only be installed at Volkswagen dealerships. Or, perhaps, Volkswagen will steal the money back in an "Ocean's 11"-style heist while the EPA and CARB are cavorting around with Julia Roberts.
As it stands, $2 billion is a huge sum for expanding EV infrastructure, and VW'sdoesn't use a proprietary charger port. Thus, any chargers that would be built to work with the e-Golf would certainly work with every other EV sharing the same port type. And I have a hard time believing that US regulators feel like doing anything that would benefit Volkswagen right now.
The letter should probably read, "Please, Department of Justice, don't forget that we have business interests that directly correspond to this $2 billion disbursement, and we'd really like to make some money off this whole thing, thanks."