ChargePoint urges judge to revise VW settlement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - ChargePoint Inc, the world's largest electric vehicle charging network, has asked a U.S. judge to order changes to Volkswagen AG's VOWG_p.DE $2 billion agreement with the Justice Department to boost zero emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure.

A U.S. flag flutters in the wind above a Volkswagen dealership in Carlsbad, California, U.S. May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The company, which operates more than 30,000 public charging stations, said the VW diesel emissions cheating settlement threatens its survival and other charging station companies.

VW has agreed to spend up to $16.5 billion to settle with U.S. owners, state and federal regulators and dealers after it admitted to installing software that allowed 475,000 U.S. vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions.

Under the proposed settlement, VW must spend $2 billion over 10 years to improve infrastructure, access and education to support and advance ZEVs, including $800 million in California.

The funding will allow VW “literally to drown out all other participants in the ZEV infrastructure market through enormous spending, made at its unfettered discretion, that is untethered to the normal constraints and financial metrics by which all other market participants must operate,” ChargePoint said in a court filing late on Tuesday.

Allowing VW “to flood a competitive market with $2 billion in goods threatens the survival of the current participants in that market,” ChargePoint said.

The Justice Department rejected ChargePoint’s arguments in a September 30 court filing, adding it believes that zero emission vehicle infrastructure is likely to increase in coming years and will allow “for continuing competition in these

emerging markets.”

The settlement requires VW to fund infrastructure that can be used with electric vehicles produced by all manufacturers.

ChargePoint said VW could “drive out all competition” through free or subsidized charging.

ChargePoint said in May it had raised an additional $50 million, bringing total funding the California-based company has raised from investors to more than $164 million.

The company said it has 244,000 drivers registered on its network, including more than 125,000 in California.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer is set to hold a hearing on whether to grant final approval to the settlement on Oct. 18. An EPA spokesman declined to comment on ChargePoint’s objection. VW did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

ChargePoint said Breyer could appoint an independent trustee to oversee the fund or issue an order barring VW from offering charging services at below market rates.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Andrew Hay