I suggested a few weeks ago that the state punish Volkswagen by requiring them to support electric vehicle deployment, and apparently a bunch of clean technology folks like Elon Musk agree with me. They wrote a letter to the California Air Resources Board urging them to impose a zero-emission vehicle credit buying requirement on VW, as well as mandating that they build EVs here in California.
Of course it’s in Musk’s business interest to propose this idea, but I think it makes sense. It may not satisfy consumer advocates burned about customers now driving defective products, or environmental justice advocates upset about the localized pollution from these cheating vehicles. But look at the bigger picture: investment now in electric vehicles will bring down their cost, allowing most people in California to buy one by 2030 or sooner and cleaning the air and climate in the process.
My only concern, as I voiced in the original blog post, is that California has not proven to be effective at negotiating these “punishments.” The eVgo settlement requiring more electric vehicle chargers has been just short of a disaster, and it’s not clear anyone in state government is learning any lessons from that experience. But in concept, the idea makes sense for the California economy and environment, as well as for the affected communities.