| SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON
SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON Oct 7 A settlement
with U.S. regulators gives Volkswagen AG too much
authority over how to spend $2 billion on electric vehicle
technology, a U.S. congresswoman from California said this week
in a letter, echoing concerns from states and others who fear
the German automaker gains undue influence in the deal.
Volkswagen agreed to spend $1.2 billion nationally and $800
million more in California on electric vehicle technology as
penalties for equipping hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles
sold in the United States with software designed to cheat
tailpipe emissions tests.
The letter from Representative Anne Eshoo comes ahead of an
Oct. 18 hearing at which a federal judge will consider whether
to give final approval to $15.3 billion in settlements for
owners, state and federal regulators or require changes and
A provision "of particular concern" allows VW to make
"possible investments in its own proprietary technology and
subsidiaries," Eshoo, a Democrat, said in the Oct. 4 letter to
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa
The EPA declined to comment. VW was not immediately
available for comment. It has urged the court approve the deal.
Eshoo's fears mirror those raised by electric car-charging
station companies in August.
Four members of the California state legislature, in
comments to the U.S. Department of Justice, also urged
independent oversight and administration of the VW funds "to
ensure that multiple vendors with cutting-edge technology are
able to enter the market."
The Justice Department said last month it received 1,195
comments period from private citizens, state and local
government offices and agencies, businesses, and institutions
and associations. The DOJ urged the agreements be approved with
only minor changes.
Objectors face an uphill battle since U.S. courts generally
give the government significant latitude to negotiate
The Justice Department said nearly half of the comments were
submitted on behalf of a company that provides truck-stop
electrification services to long-haul truck drivers, IdleAir,
urging that the VW program be allowed to fund such projects.
(Editing by Peter Henderson and Leslie Adler)