Elon Musk Urges CARB To Be Smart About VW Sanctions


Elon Musk

Elon Musk and 44 other prominent business leaders have sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board urging it not to force VW to fix its non-conforming diesel cars but rather to invest that money into building electric vehicles. Musk and his peers say that the citizens of California would get little value from making  VW fix its diesel cars. On the other hand, if that money were invested in battery research and constructing new electric car factories, the environment would be improved and the local economy would get a much needed boost.

Here are the main topics in the letter:

1. Release VW from its obligation to fix diesel cars already on the road in California, which represent an insignificant portion of total vehicles emissions in the state, and which cars do not, individually, present any emissions-related risk to their owners or occupants

2. Instead, direct VW to accelerate greatly its rollout of zero-emission vehicles, which by their very nature, have zero emissions and thus present zero opportunities for cheating, and also do not require any enforcement dollars to verify

3. Require that this acceleration of the rollout of zero emissions vehicles by VW result in a 10 for 1 or greater reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to the pollution associated with the diesel fleet cheating, and achieve this over the next 5 years

4. Require that VW invest in new manufacturing plants and/or research and development, in the amounts that they otherwise would have been fined, and do so in California to the extent that California would have been allocated its share of the fines

5. Allow VW some flexibility in the execution and timing of this plan by allowing it to be implemented via zero-emission vehicle credits.

The letter calls these proposals “a real win for California emissions, a big win for California jobs, and a historic action to help derail climate change.” CARB spokesman Dave Clegern said in an email to Newsweek, “Our focus has and will continue to be cleaning the air and advancing the cleanest vehicle and fuel technologies.” Bureaucratic newspeak doesn’t get much more opaque than that.

How can Musk be advocating for more competition? Doesn’t he want to have electric car business all to himself? Apparently he is serious when he says his primary goal is to get the world to stop burning fossil fuels. And deep down inside, one suspects he believes no one will ever make an electric car that is as good as a Tesla.

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • BulkZerker

    Of course the man poised to be Tue #1 source for EV batteries wants VW to put more money into selling electric vehicles. Then they would need someone to supply batteries.

    The same could be said about nearly every other person who signed it.

    This signed list is a veritible who’s who of people who stand to make a lot of money from EVs.

    Ion Yadigaroglu
    Partner, Capricorn Investment Group

    Dipender Saluja
    Partner, Capricorn Investment Group

    Ira Ehrenpreis
    Partner, DBL Partners

    Lyndon Rive
    CEO, SolarCity

    Ari Swiller
    Renewable Resources Group

    Jigar Shah
    President, Generate Capital

    Adam Wolfensohn
    Partner, Encourage Capital

    Steve Westly
    Former California State Controller

    Kevin Parker
    CEO, Sustainable Insight Capital

    Mindy Lubber
    President, Ceres

    Jesse Fink
    Chairman, MissionPoint

    Jeffrey Tannenbaum
    Chairman, sPower

    Laurence Levi
    Partner, VO2 Partners

    Nicholas Eisenberger
    Partner, Pure Energy

    Peter R. Stein
    Managing Director, Lyme Timber

    Elon Musk
    CEO, Tesla and SpaceX

    Carl Pope
    Inside Straight Strategies

    Hal Harvey
    CEO, Energy Innovation

    Michael Brune
    Executive Director, Sierra Club

    Lawrence Bender
    Producer, An Inconvenient Truth

    Jason Calacanis
    Angel, Launch Fund

    Jason Scott
    Partner, Encourage Capital

    Jules Kortenhorst
    CEO, Rocky Mountain Institute

    Anja Manuel
    Partner, RiceHadleyGates

    Tom Darden
    Partner, Cherokee Fund

    Matt Breidert
    Senior Portfolio Manager, Ecofin

    Rob Davenport
    Managing Partner, Brightpath Capital

    Rob Day
    Partner, Black Coral Capital

    Marc Stuart
    CEO, Allotrope Partners

    Bruce Kahn
    PM, Sustainable Insight Capital

    Jeff Skoll
    CEO, Jeff Skoll Group

    Chamath Palihapitiya
    CEO, Social Capital

    Antonio Gracias
    CEO, Valor Equity Partners

    Cole Frates
    Renewable Resources Group

    Reuben Munger
    Partner, Vision Ridge

    Gregory Manuel
    Partner, MNL Partners

    Martin Roscheisen
    CEO, Diamond Foundry

    Steven Dietz
    Partner, Upfront Ventures

    Larry Lunt
    CEO, Armonia

    Panos Ninios
    Partner, True Green Capital

    Suhail Rizvi
    CEO, Rizvi Traverse

    Stuart Davidson
    Chairman, Sonen

    Dan Fuller
    CIO, Fuller Smith

    Justin Kamine
    Kamine Development

    Raúl Pomares
    Managing Director, Sonen

    • Rick Danger

      It’s not too late to change your name to BULL Zerker

      • SaeedOdayStalksMe

        What can I say? I wade through the bullshit like a man possessed to bring the facts.

  • Steve Hanley

    I think self interest is an intrinsic part of the capitalist system. That being said, I find the argument put forth in the letter to be persuasive.

  • zn

    That’s a pretty novel idea, and really, no one really loses here. I say go for it.