Volkswagen has been dealing with a series of unfortunate events lately, with European security researchers recently claiming that almost 100 million of the company's vehicles are vulnerable to a new hack that affects the keyless entry systems. But that's not even why the company is about to go down as one of the biggest "whoops" moments in auto manufacturing history. Volkswagen is close to wrapping up its settlement over the “dieselgate” scandal. To summarize, Volkswagen sold thousands of diesel-fueled cars claiming they low emissions, but they rigged the cars to intentionally trick emission tests. Not nice, VW.
When the dust settles on the settlement, VW could be on the hook for around $15 billion in fines, paybacks and other remunerations. It is those other remunerations that are coming under scrutiny.
Charging Station Infrastructure
At issue is the pledge for VW to invest in electric charging infrastructure. It seems like a justified punishment. VW caused pollution, and now VW is going to pay to support clean energy. Electric cars are gaining in popularity. Vehicles like the Prius and Leaf and making an impact on carbon footprints.
What hasn't caught up yet are electric charging station options. Obviously, you can plug your electric car into your home outlet once you get back from your daily travels. What happens if you get low on juice while driving? That is where the charging stations come into play.
There are charging stations popping up at airports, shopping malls and government buildings, but that's not enough. The VW investment could lead to an expansion with stations being built at large apartment complexes and bigger parking structures throughout the country. What could be the harm in that? It's a matter of trust.
A concern has been raised by 28 companies that are already in the electric charging-station business. They fear that the big cash infusion VW is pouring into the project might give them an unfair advantage in deciding where these stations are going to be built and how they will be designed. Could it be Volkswagen might set up the stations to benefit its own electric cars? How could a company be so devious and unscrupulous? Oh, right. It already is.
The proposed solution is to appoint an administrator who will ensure everyone in the business gets a fair slice of the pie. With $1.2 billion earmarked for this expansion, it’s understandable these companies would want to be protected.
If you happen to be one of the owners of those polluting VWs, you might be wondering what good an electric charging station is going to do for your driving. Not much, actually. However, VW is attempting to make things right by cutting checks up to $20,000 for each car owner. That might help defer some of the costs of your initial investment in the diesel VW. The real problem is that in some states, like California, if you don't pass the emissions test, then you can't drive your car.
Just be thankful you don't live in Europe with a diesel VW. All those owners got for their troubles was a software update and a piece of plastic pipe. Why the difference? Lawyers. In Europe, it is much harder to sue a manufacturer in class-action lawsuits. Remember that the next time you hear a politician who wants to roll back lawsuit regulations. Would you rather have a check or a plastic tube?
Image credit: Myrtle Beach TheDigitel, Flickr
Anum Yoon is a writer who is passionate about personal finance and sustainability. She often looks for ways she can incorporate money management with environmental awareness. You can read her updates on <a href="http://www.currentoncurrency.com>Current on Currency</a>.