Here’s New York’s EV Plan for $128 Million in Dieselgate Money

Protesters show banners during a bicycles protest against the ongoing diesel affair in front of the Transport Ministry on the day new Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer took office on March 14, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. A German court recently ruled that cities may impose bans on diesel cars in order to bring down air pollution. Many diesel car owners are furious at German automakers, particularly Volkswagen, following the illegal software scandal that enabled diesel cars with high emissions to still pass emissions tests. Public confidence in diesel technology in Germany has plummeted as some critics even predict the demise of the technology altogether.
People around the world have not forgotten Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal. This group came out in Germany in March 2018. | Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal may have fallen out of the daily headlines, but the fallout continues in 2018. Just keep an eye out the next time you’re watching a ballgame.

You may see commercials for electric vehicles playing on national TV broadcasts in the U.S. Even though the Chevrolet Bolt EV is the star of the ad, you’ll see “Sponsored by Volkswagen Group of America” at the end.

Yes, the German automaker had to pay for ads promoting all electric cars as part of its $25 billion punishment for the emissions-cheating program. Of those billions, $127.7 million of Volkswagen’s settlement money went to New York State.

As The Daily Gazette reported, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out a plan for spending that money on clean vehicles in the state. Here’s what New York will do with its chunk of the Dieselgate settlement in a plan expected to remove 4,500 tons of nitrous oxide from the air.

1. Electric buses for mass transit and schools ($52.4 million)

The biggest part of the money ($52.4 million) will go to electrifying public buses. According to the New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), at least 100 all-electric public transit buses will get on the road. That will get the highly polluting diesel and natural gas buses off the road.

Meanwhile, the DEC said it would provide funding for 400 school buses running on electric or alternative fuel power. Somehow, diesel was mentioned as a possibility for the buses, though the report says EVs will have priority. (As with all things promised by Cuomo, we’ll have to follow this part of the story to the very end.)

2. Replacing large- and medium-sized trucks ($20 million)

The DEC said it would allocate $11.5 million toward replacing large trucks in New York. Though there are not many providers of these vehicles currently in business, the plan aims to electrify or otherwise reduce emissions of 145 trucks. Communities with the highest emissions burden (i.e., close to trash dumps and highways) would be a target for this investment.

Medium-size trucks will also get electric powertrains if available. The DEC said it would set aside $8.5 million to cleaning up some 265 trucks of this side. Again, the priority would be on electric models.

3. EV charging stations ($19.2 million)

A Volkswagen e-Golf at a solar-powered charging station at Point Lookout, NY in 2015 | Eric Schaal/The Cheat Sheet

A major chunk of this funding will go to buying, installing, and maintaining electric vehicle charging stations across the state. In terms of volume, let’s just say that $19.2 million buys a lot of plugs for EVs, and we’re curious to see how this part of the program develops.

If you asked a frequent EV driver who lives in New York City, we’d tell you that charging stations need to be in public places and need to be going up throughout the five boroughs. (Upstate, they areĀ a common sight.) We’d didn’t see anything guaranteeing that in the DEC plan.

However, the DEC did say it would provide Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast charging to workplaces, multi-unit residential buildings, and public places. The department said it won’t construct any areas (e.g., parking lots) to spread the use of the technology. We’d say that’s a mistake. In a place like Manhattan, we anticipate more EV chargers hidden (and largely unused) in very expensive parking garages.

4. Railroad and ship equipment ($11.5 million)

State rail and boat equipment will also get an overhaul to reduce emissions. As many as 12 tugs/ferries will have their engines replaced with cleaner (diesel or electric) engines.

Meanwhile, the bulk ($8 million) will go toward replacing freight switchers (up to 10) with either diesel or electric switchers or angines.

5. Airport and cargo equipment ($4.2 million)

Finally, the DEC plan will take aim at the easiest of targets for electrification: airport ground support equipment. Some 154 baggage-handling vehicles will become electric and get 77 stations for charging. With such short distances to travel and lots of down time for charging, this part of the program (at $3.2 million) makes perfect sense.

The last part of the settlement ($1 million) will go to replacing old forklifts and cargo equipment in New York ports. Somehow, the state said that sum would buy four (4) new electric vehicles.