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Electrify America to manage $2B investment in electric vehicles across US

February 10, 2017 By Phil Carroll in

By Jeannine Anderson, News Editor, Pubic Power Daily

A new organization called Electrify America has been created to manage the $2 billion over the next decade that will be provided by Volkswagen Group of America  to invest in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure in the U.S. and to build awareness of electric vehicles. The money will come from Volkswagen as a result of a partial settlement with the car company in court fights over the VW emissions-cheating scandal.

The settlement will cost the car manufacturer $14.7 billion over 10 years. As part of that settlement — one of the biggest consumer settlements in U.S. history — Volkswagen will have to invest $2 billion over the next decade in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and in the promotion of zero-emission electric vehicles. The settlement also includes $2.7 billion over three years for an environmental trust to remediate the illegal levels of nitrogen oxides emitted by the VW vehicles.

Electrify America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., will manage the $2 billion investment program. The new organization is separate from the Volkswagen Group automobile brands. Its headquarters will be in Reston, Va., just outside Washington, D.C.

“We will build a nationwide network of workplace, community, and highway chargers that are convenient and reliable,” Electrify America says on its website. “Our investment will enable millions of Americans to discover the benefits of electric driving.”

CEO, other managers are named

In a Feb. 7 news release, Electrify America said its chief executive officer will be Mark McNabb, formerly the chief operation officer for Volkswagen of America. McNabb has more than 25 years of experience in the U.S. automotive industry, including at Maserati North America, General Motors, Mercedes Benz USA and Nissan North America. He will report to Dr. Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, a member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG.

“Mark has extensive knowledge of the U.S. automotive industry, broad experience managing small and large organizations and strong leadership skills,” said Garcia Sanz. “I have every confidence in his ability to lead Electrify America in its mission to power electric mobility from coast to coast.”

Brendan Jones, an expert in electric vehicle technology, will be chief operating officer. Jan Vycital, chief financial officer for Volkswagen Group of American, will also be the chief financial officer for Electrify America.

VW admitted it used ‘defeat device’

In the fall of 2015, Volkswagen “publicly admitted it had secretly and deliberately installed a defeat device” — software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators — in nearly half a million Volkswagen- and Audi-branded TDI diesel vehicles sold to American consumers, said the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in an October 2016 order approving the settlement.

The vehicles, which included 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, Golfs and Beetles as well as the TDI Audi A3, emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable amounts of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

$800M goes to California; $1.2B to rest of nation

Electrify America said an investment of $800 million will be directed to California, one of the world’s largest markets for zero-emission vehicles. A further $1.2 billion “will be invested under separate programs across the United States,” said the new organization.

Electrify America said it plans to work with “a broad range of experienced partners” to develop, operate and maintain the infrastructure it plans to build, and to implement programs.

The new organization said its initiatives will include:

• Installing chargers locally in approximately 15 metro areas;

• Developing a high-speed, cross-country network consisting of 200 or more stations that will offer direct-current fast chargers;

• Increasing awareness and fostering education about electric vehicles (EVs), charging availability, and the benefits of electric mobility; and

• Launching a Green City initiative in a yet-to-be-named California municipality to pilot future concepts of sustainable mobility, such as a ZEV-based shuttle service, an EV-based car-sharing program, or a ZEV transit application.

Other efforts in the U.S. to provide infrastructure for electric vehicles were made public in recent months.
Over the summer, the American Public Power Association and the Department of Energy announced that they will pursue collaborative efforts to advance electric vehicle adoption and charging infrastructure construction in public power communities across the United States.

In signing a memorandum of understanding, APPA President and CEO Sue Kelly and DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Friedman said they will work to develop information and resources to increase education and awareness of the benefits of EVs to public power utilities and local officials in a partnership called “EV Everywhere — Public Power Charged.”

In November, the Federal Highway Administration unveiled 55 routes that will serve as the basis for a national network of corridors that support alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric vehicles.

In December 2016, the governors of Colorado, Utah and Nevada announced that they will work together over the next year to develop complementary plans for building an electric vehicle charging network across key highway corridors in their states. The corridors will include Interstates 70, 76 and 25 across Colorado; Interstates 70, 80 and 15 across Utah; and Interstates 80 and 15 across Nevada.