By David Manoucheri

California has led the nation in the push to electrify the vehicles on its roads. Several bills trying to eliminate the sale of gas-powered vehicles by the end of the next decade have been attempted, though failed.

One big investment in helping electrify those drivers is the settlement Volkswagen paid to the state. The California Air Resources Board discovered Volkswagen diesel cars had been programmed to fake better emissions during smog testing. In reality, the cars were spewing higher levels of pollution into the air. As a result of that investigation, the car company agreed to an $800 million settlement with the State of California.

The first round of investment of that money helped pay for new electric transit vehicles and chargers throughout the state of California.

Now the Air Resources Board is looking at how to invest the next $200 million from that settlement. The plan calls for more metropolitan and highway installation, but critics are saying it doesn’t go far enough.

“The plan can be improved by striving to ensure that more than 35 percent of investments are in low-income or disadvantaged communities,” says The Greenlining Institute in a letter to the board.

Legislators from rural communities also see the need to install more chargers and infrastructure in rural and suburban communities. Half of the money, $95-$115 million, will go to fast-charging stations in metro areas if the plan is approved.

Still, manufacturers like General Motors Co. disagree with the investment proposed, saying it doesn’t put enough in metropolitan areas. Since GM is making its long-range “Bolt,” it sees money to help install workplace charging stations and more city-based infrastructure, along with highway, installation as more important.

The plan also proposes $8 million – $12 million to fund home chargers.

CARB meets Dec. 7 to hear comment from stakeholders. On Dec 13 and 14 the board plans to vote either to approve or modify/disapprove the plan.