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VW to invest $300M in hundreds of EV chargers across the US

It's part of the company's massive settlement with diesel owners and federal regulators.

A 2013 Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle being charged at CALSTART in Pasadena on August, 1, 2013. The car gets 40 miles on a full charge using a level 2 charger. After the 40 miles the car switches over to gasoline to extend its range. A full charge on a level 2 charger takes 4 hours. The solar panels are used to supply 80%-90% of CALSTART's electricity needs and which power the 5 electric vehicle charging stations. (Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Gary Friedman/LA Times/Getty Images

When Volkswagen agreed to a landmark $15 billion settlement in the wake of its diesel malfeasance, part of that settlement involved promoting the use of next-gen propulsion technology. Now, we're seeing it start to pan out.

Electrify America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America, is set to invest $300 million in a network of electric-vehicle chargers. It hopes to create hundreds of stations with "non-proprietary" chargers in 11 different urban markets, including stations along popular highway corridors. It's the first stage of a deployment meant to boost demand for electric vehicles.

Volkswagen might have screwed up the environment with its over-polluting diesels, but we'll have the company to thank for all these shiny new EV chargers.

Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

"Electrify America aims to establish one of the largest, most technically advanced and customer-friendly charging networks in the US," said Mark McNabb, CEO of Electrify America, in a statement. "Our investments will make it easier and faster for millions of Americans to charge their electric vehicles while encouraging more drivers to explore and embrace electric driving."

Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2017, and Electrify America hopes to complete work by 2019. It promises "the most advanced charging technology ever deployed," with an estimated 15-20 minute charging time for the next generation of EVs based on a 320-kW power output, which no current EV can handle. Tesla's Superchargers run about 145 kW, for context.

According to Electrify America's long-term plans, the planned stations alongside the highway will offer between four and 10 chargers per station and spread across 39 different states, spaced between 66 and 120 miles apart. It will also build hundreds of 50-to-150-kW chargers in urban parking lots and garages in several large markets, including Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami and New York.

When Volkswagen agreed to its $15 billion diesel settlement, it promised to set aside $2 billion to bolster EV infrastructure and awareness. $1.2 billion is going to education programs and infrastructure outside of California, with the remaining $800 million earmarked for the Golden State. It's the largest investment of its kind, which is impressive regardless of the dirty tricks Volkswagen pulled to end up in this position.