If Volkswagen’s punishment was up to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, he’d want the German car company to work on curing the air, not the cars.
In an open letter to the California Air Resources Board, Musk and 44 of his like-minded investor friends urged the state to release Volkswagen from the obligation to fix its cars and instead have the company reinvest the money in producing zero-emissions vehicles.
In September, Volkswagen admitted that its cars were effectively cheating during the emissions test because of their programming. Since then, the car manufacturer has pledged to fix the cars with the software error.
Musk and his cohorts don’t believe that pledge will do much good.
“For a significant fraction of the non-compliant diesel cars already in the hands of drivers, there is no real solution. Drivers won’t come in for a fix that compromises performance,” they wrote.
Rather, the cohort laid out a five step plan for California to adopt:
“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.”
Musk might not have to do much to persuade Volkswagen it’s a great idea. The car maker is said to be ready to reveal plans for a new electric car, which will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.