New Midwest Partnership Applauds Chicago’s Inclusion in Volkswagen Investment Plan

Charge Up Midwest calls for more Midwest cities to benefit from zero emission vehicle investments

Ann Arbor. April 13, 2017 —Charge Up Midwest, a new partnership aimed at catalyzing Midwest leadership on electric vehicles, applauds the Volkswagen’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Investment Plan inclusion of Chicago as one of the cities selected for investment. The EPA approved plan posted by the EPA today proposes EV infrastructure investments in 11 major metro areas, including one in the Midwest, Chicago.  VW’s plan also includes investments in charging infrastructure along several key highway corridors throughout the Midwest such as I-75, I-94, and I-80.

“The planned VW investment in Chicago is terrific news for a city that has taken many steps towards clean transportation,” says Robert Kelter, senior attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and a Charge Up Midwest partner. “The VW funds will accelerate the shift away from traditional gasoline vehicles to a new generation of electric vehicles that will mean lower costs, cleaner air and less dependence on foreign oil – a real step towards keeping Chicago at the forefront of great American cities.”

Chicago’s high density population and large number of metro area employers make it an ideal location for investment. Chicago also sits along major highway corridors that connect the Midwest, which is home to more than one-fifth of the nation’s people.

While the Charge Up Midwest campaign applauds VW’s proposed investments in Chicago and along key highway corridors, its members are disappointed that VW did not propose additional Midwestern cities in its plan.  The coalition believes that more investment in the region is critical to capitalizing on the significant EV growth opportunities presented in America's heartland.

"Here in America's heartland, Metro areas like Columbus, Detroit, and Minneapolis-St. Paul were also prime candidates for VW’s infrastructure investments,” stated Charles Griffith, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  "With their strong leadership on EVs and with more than a fifth of the nation’s population here in the Midwest, we are disappointed that more cities in our region did not receive stronger consideration."

The investments are being made as a result of the national settlement agreement reached last year with EPA and the California Air Resources Board to address the VW emissions-cheating scandal. Volkswagen’s newly released ZEV investment plan is threefold: investments in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure on major highway corridors, investments in infrastructure in key metro areas, and funding to increase awareness and foster education surrounding EVs. VW has developed a separate plan for California, which includes launching a Green City Initiative that will pilot future concepts of sustainable mobility.

In late 2016, Charge Up Midwest submitted a letter to Volkswagen in response to their initial Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Investment Plan. The letter highlighted the opportunities to strategically deploy charging infrastructure in a region that is primed for greater electric vehicle adoption and cited specific examples of EV programs in several Midwest metro areas. The campaign proposed working collaboratively with utility companies to expand and deploy charging infrastructure, and cautioned against displacing existing and proposed infrastructure plans.

“Engaging the pertinent stakeholders with an interest in the future of electric vehicles— policymakers, automakers, utility companies, and environmental and consumer advocacy groups—is vital to figuring out the best ways to increase the number of electric vehicles produced in our region as well as on our roads. Making our region a leader in electric vehicles not only helps to ensure that the Midwest remains a leader in automotive technology, but that we lead in reducing carbon emissions and air pollution as well.” – said Joe Halso, an attorney at the Sierra Club.

Charge Up Midwest is a campaign led by environmental and clean energy organizations committed to helping the Midwest minimize carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Campaign partners seek to engage with a broad range of stakeholders to support actions that increase investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, create a more resilient and low-carbon grid, expand the education of the public and policymakers about the benefits of electric vehicles, and otherwise accelerate the electric vehicle market in the region.

Campaign partners are already working with electric utility companies to expand and strengthen electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the region, and conducting research into the economic and environmental benefits of electric vehicles. Charge Up Midwest’s campaign partners are made up of organizations that work in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio:

Ecology Center

Fresh Energy

Clean Fuels Ohio

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Natural Resources Defense Council

Sierra Club

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Published on April 13, 2017