FUNDING: Get Ready to Drink from the VW Firehose

June 6, 2018

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(Article appears in the July 2018 issue of Fleet Owner Magazine)

Over two years of legal wrangling, negotiations, and stakeholder outreach and it all comes down to this – the final VW settlement plans are being finalized and funds are finally hitting the streets. The $2.925 billion, with each state receiving a share of the pot, provides an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate deployments of advanced clean transportation technologies and reduce harmful emissions.

At the time of publication, eleven states have published their final VW settlement plans and another twenty have draft plans in the hopper. But more importantly, some of the states have already begun implementing their plans and allocating funds.

School buses are an early favorite

Interested in VW Settlement Funds? Find out if your project in eligible with the VW Funding Project Competitiveness Calculator » 

As each state has the ability to craft its own priorities, individual funding plans are no less diverse than the states themselves. However, school buses have emerged as a priority for the earliest states to allocate their funds.

Oregon will allocate funds to a variety of local school districts based on the age of the buses within those districts. In line with the VW settlement’s efforts to achieve transparency, the state has published the list of districts selected. The selected districts may choose to take one of two actions on their eligible buses

  • Receive up to 100 percent of costs to purchase and install exhaust controls (i.e, DPFs) or
  • Receive up to $50,000 to purchase a new diesel or alternative fuel school bus

Minnesota’s first phase of VW dollars will include a $2.35 million carve out for school bus projects. Public and private operators are eligible to apply for funding and there are no limits on the types of fuel used. The school bus program is expected to open any day and will cover up to $15,000 per vehicle. For buses serving school districts where 40% of students are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch, the incentive rises to $20,000 per bus.

California recently approved $130 million in funding specifically for buses, school, transit, and shuttle buses. A maximum of $400,000 will be allocated per zero-emission school bus, covering nearly the entire cost, and $180,000 for buyers of zero-emission school buses, covering approximately 25% of the cost.

Dozens of states (and their hundreds of millions in grant funding!) are queuing up their final VW settlement plans while those latecomer states will release their initial draft plans in the coming weeks and months.

While not bucking the school bus trend, Ohio is taking a multi-sector approach. Ohio expects to open its first VW program this week and they will make available $15 million to repower or replace medium- and heavy-duty diesel engines and vehicles. Funding will be prioritized on a county basis in a nod to the state’s strategy to address the largest NOx emissions sources.

Big money is still on the horizon

In recent weeks, California has made waves announcing their proposed final VW settlement plans.



The state plans to use its $423 million across a wide variety of on- and off-road projects. The big winners are ZEVs as $130 million and $90 million are dedicated to ZEV buses and Class 8 trucks, respectively. The state also proposes to allocate $70 million to implement zero-emission off-road projects in ports and airports, as well as $60 million for heavy-duty low NOx vehicles, locomotives, and marine vessels. The state will be conducting workshops in the coming months to develop plans on how to allocate these funds.

Where do we go from here? 

In terms of near-term funding opportunities, the cup runneth over. Dozens of states (and their hundreds of millions in grant funding!) are queuing up their final VW settlement plans while those latecomer states will release their initial draft plans in the coming weeks and months.

Fortunately, GNA’s Funding 360 Team has its fingers on the VW settlement funding pulse – we have researched, read, and distilled down all of the important state-by-state details so fleet managers, technology providers, and fuel suppliers can identify the best incentives for their projects. We’ve also made some funding resources available on ACT News, including the new VW Funding Project Competitiveness Calculator, which evaluates a project’s eligibility for VW funding.

Now is the time has come to take advantage of this opportunity to secure incentives to achieve your company’s environmental and economic goals.