Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved its portion of an electric vehicle (EV) investment plan stemming from the 2016 Volkswagen (VW) settlement, setting in motion the first tranche of four $300 million national investments in EV infrastructure. As part of the settlement, California is set to receive $800 million, split into four $200 million 30-month cycles, to build out zero emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure and promote ZEV adoption.

This unprecedented level of investment across the country is a tremendous opportunity for American drivers, clean air, and the growing domestic electric vehicle charging industry at a critical inflection point for driver choice. The existing private sector participants have installed more than 35% of the total volume of electric vehicle fast chargers in the last 18 months, and new extended range vehicles give consumers choices that they can take advantage of if the right investments are made into charging infrastructure to build on successes to date. VW’s wholly-owned subsidiary Electrify America submitted its plan to spend the first $200 million in California, and we strongly encourage the California Air Resources Board (ARB), to approve the first phase of the plan to unlock this investment.

The mandated VW investment represents a consequential opportunity to accelerate the EV market in California without picking winners or losers. The two major barriers to mass EV adoption are: 1) price of range-competitive vehicles, and 2) availability of infrastructure. Already, 2017 is gearing up to be a big year for the market. The Chevy Bolt has the range (240 miles) and price point ($30K with tax credits) that can work for most consumers. And the Tesla Model 3 is on the near horizon. Electrify America’s funding will help break down the crucial second barrier, providing much-needed capital to build charging infrastructure to support those sales. We will never achieve necessary scale of adoption of ZEVs if charging infrastructure continues to lag.

Moreover, Electrify America’s plan will keep California competitive with the rest of the market by helping meet its transportation and emission reduction goals over the next decade. There has long been a debate as to whether electric vehicles need to be on the road before the public charging infrastructure is built or vice versa, known as the industry’s chicken-or-egg question. This investment will help resolve the debate by deploying open-access, high-speed charging along highways, and public chargers in workplaces, multi-family dwellings, and community settings, such as grocery stores and shopping malls. Furthermore, by mandating that all chargers operate on an open standards-based interoperable network, the plan ensures these assets are future-proofed and remain available and relevant to drivers.

Although some vocal paricipants have criticized this proposal and even suggested going back to the drawing board on the settlement itself, we believe this is a shortsighted and dangerous path. Transportation is now the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and California’s continued leadership on tackling emissions from vehicles is critical to solving this challenge. Any delay or reassessment of the VW proposal could lead to a much worse deal from President Trump’s EPA and Justice Department, and the benefits to California’s environment and economy would be thrown into question.

As companies representing the full breadth of the EV charging industry, including EV supply equipment manufacturers, installers, and technology providers, we have come together to urge ARB to implement the requirements of the existing settlement as soon as possible. It is important for California to act during this critical window to invest in zero emissions vehicle infrastructure rather than fall behind.

ARB is a capable and trusted entity that has made California the top state in the country for ZEVs today. We encourage ARB to approve and oversee the VW ZEV investment plan as expeditiously as possible. This first installment of $200 million and the additional $600 million in subsequent years present a significant opportunity to bring EVs to more Californians. We, representing much of the existing electric vehicle charging industry, support this infusion of infrastructure funding and look forward to working with leaders in the state to make sure that VW works with private sector participants in delivering for California drivers. We urge stakeholders to support our efforts and not let this opportunity be squandered.

We firmly believe that our state, our industry, and our planet cannot afford any unnecessary delay in implementing a cleaner future. California has always been the global leader in driving the automotive market towards a safer and more efficient future. The VW settlement and ZEV investment plan represent another unique moment for California to push forward and accelerate broad adoption of EVs.