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.