November 2, 2018 4:00 PM, EDT

Sacramento Gets $44 Million in Electric Vehicles

Volkswagen LogoMichael Sohn/Associated press

Eleven Sacramento apartment complexes will soon have shareable Volkswagen electric vehicles — the first benefit the state has received after the company was ordered to spend $800 million promoting EVs as part of a settlement for its 2015 emission scandal.

The automaker plans to spend $44 million in the capitol by next year on a variety of green initiatives such as car-sharing, electric shuttles and charging stations. The cars will go to Envoy, a Los Angeles car-sharing company that only uses electric vehicles.

Over the next few months, the automaker plans to provide two e-Golf electric vehicles and charging stations at 71 Sacramento apartment complexes. Of those, at least 53 will be complexes whose tenants are low-income or are in environmentally disadvantaged areas, such as those with poor air quality, said Rich Steinberg, spokesman for Electrify America, a Washington, D.C.-area Volkswagen subsidiary.

Company and city officials have selected more than 20 apartment complexes to get the cars, spanning the city from North Natomas to Parkway, according to a document from Envoy.

The first 11 complexes to get the cars include nine that serve low-income residents and two that are market rate — Vintage at Natomas and Harbor Oaks Luxury Apartments, both in Natomas, according to a spokeswoman.

City of Sacramento

City of Sacramento. (Getty Images)

“(The program) introduces electric vehicles to this community where you don’t see a lot of electric vehicles,” Councilman Larry Carr said Nov. 1 during a news conference at Whispering Pines Apartments in Meadowview, one of the first complexes to receive the cars.

After news of the Volkswagen settlement broke, Carr and Alberto Ayala, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, teamed up to figure out how to bring EVs to lower income Sacramento neighborhoods, Carr said.

“I put him in my Tesla and we drove all around through all these apartment complexes,” Carr said. “We talked about how we’re going to introduce electric vehicles to our community. They’re easy to introduce in other communities, but when people don’t have a lot of disposable income, it’s very difficult.”

Whispering Pines resident Theresa Archie, who shares a car with her fiance, said she will use the EVs to get to medical appointments or to go help care for her 10-year-old niece.

“When he’s gone with the car and I need to go somewhere, I have no transportation,” Archie, 37, said.

Many Whispering Pines residents do not have their own cars, said Shirley Jones, who’s lived in the complex for 27 years.

“I think it’ll give people more liberty,” she said.

Residents can rent the cars for 15 cents per mile.

With the $44 million from the car maker, Electrify America also plans to bring 400 shareable EVs to the city, electric buses between UC Davis and downtown Sacramento, and electric shuttle buses in lower-income south Sacramento neighborhoods. All those initiatives will be up and running next year, Steinberg said.

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