Tesla Motors receives $39 million in sales tax incentives from state

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Elon Musk Has Some Thoughts On VW’s Punishment.

As lawyers and regulators tee up Volkswagen for heavy penalties, a group of green tech boosters has a better idea to sanction the firm for cheating on clean-air laws: make VW crank out more electric cars in California.That seems to be the thought process of Elon Musk and an esteemed cohort of 44 other business, environmental and thought leaders, who aren’t sure the punishment for Volkswagen’s clean diesel emissions scandal makes a whole lot of sense.Tesla Motors chief executive officer Elon Musk is among the signers of a letter to California clean-air regulators asking that they give Volkswagen a break when it comes to having to fix its polluting diesel cars — in return for a huge commitment to a zero-emission future. Instead of requiring the German automaker to attempt to recall and fix all of the 85,000 diesel vehicles it sold with software designed to cheat emissions tests — a solution they label “costly,” “impractical” and generally inefficient — Musk and company propose California allocate its share of the settlement to accelerate the rollout of zero-emissions vehicles.

The open letter to Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, proposes that VW be released from “its obligation to fix diesel cars already on the road in California, which represent an insignificant portion of total vehicle emissions in the state” and present no health risk to their owners. Instead, VW would have to “accelerate greatly its rollout of zero-emission vehicles,” resulting in a “10 for 1 or greater reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to the pollution associated with the diesel fleet cheating.” Volkswagen has admitted to rigging 482,000 VW and Audi cars in the United States with 2-litre diesel engines to beat smog tests.

Besides Musk, whose company is the best known maker of luxury electric cars, the letter is signed by 45 leaders in “green” businesses and environmental groups or causes. The alternate sentencing idea comes from over three dozen green-tech movers and shakers, investors and figures such as Tesla founder Elon Musk; former eBay executive Jeff Skoll; former state Controller Steve Westly, weighing a run for governor; and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. Musk “had no role in originating the letter or writing it, but was asked to endorse it a few days before submission and it seemed like a good idea,” said Tesla spokesperson Ricardo Reyes. In the letter to the clean-air board, the green-tech group said any outcome would be better focused on alternative fuel vehicles, not improving diesel engines. The message touched on California’s stature as the new Detroit, with Silicon Valley a haven for non-fossil fuel research and self-driving technology in the nation’s biggest and most innovative auto world.

This past week, the Department of Motor Vehicles issued rules for so-called autonomous cars requiring a driver at the controls ready to grab the wheel if the self-driving technology failed. Allowing an admitted lawbreaker like Volkswagen off without a stinging sanction may be too easy, especially when the firm is already pursuing the electric and hybrid market.

But if California wants cleaner skies, more driving options and another way to undercut climate change, electric cars and other low-emission variants can provide answers.

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