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September 09, 2020   |

Press Release

New Analysis of VW Settlement Fund Projects Shows States Maximizing Clean Air Benefits with Investments in New Generation of Diesel Technology

71 percent of funds in 40 states go to investments in new technology diesel.

September 9, 2020 (WASHINGTON, DC) – Nearly $3 billion in funds set aside as part of the 2015 Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement are being heavily invested in the new generation of clean technologies, and new diesel options are proving a popular choice that is delivering the bulk of environmental benefits, according to analysis by the Diesel Technology Forum and confirmed by other sources.

“Our review of the publicly available data in 40 states demonstrates that investments in diesel technologies dominates over other fuel types. School buses have been the top priority with the most dollars invested overall, and in this sector, new diesel bus investments account for 71 percent of these projects. In projects involving vocational/medium-duty trucks, and heavy-duty trucks, 71 and 81 percent respectively went to new diesel investments, while 63 percent of all transit projects invested in new technology diesel. Nearly all investments in marine and locomotive categories were new diesel technology,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, an association representing diesel engine and equipment makers, fuel producers and suppliers.

“Not only are the percent of projects investing in new diesel technology dominating in our analysis, but the benefits achieved from diesel are as well. For example, detailed data provided by North Carolina on its spending decisions, demonstrates that investments in new diesel technology were projected to deliver 70 percent of the 29 tons of NOx reduction delivered by projects funded at this stage. 

“The principal purpose of the Volkswagen settlement fund is to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, offsetting the emission from non-compliant Volkswagen vehicles on the road between 2010 and 2015. Investments in new diesel technology are a highly cost-effective and available solution to reduce NOx emissions and maximize air quality benefits in these regions.

“The cost effectiveness of investments in new diesel technology in delivering clean air benefits is significant.  For example, the many projects funded, North Carolina approved $372,000 to replace a single older school bus with an all-electric option to reduce 74 lbs. of NOx emissions. Meanwhile, the state approved $210,000 to replace eight heavy-duty trucks with new diesel options that are projected to reduce 2.6 tons of NOx reduction. With benefits like these from diesel yielding several orders of magnitude more emission reductions, it should not be surprising that new diesel investments are heavily favored.”   

“Irrespective of the technology spending decisions, North Carolina is one of only a few states to provide a full range of accounting of its project investments and benefits. Not only do they have transparency in the process, and specific criteria for project selection, they also provide publicly available data on clean air benefits from the choices,” noted Schaeffer.  In many other states, it will be hard for stakeholders to determine the actual clean air impacts from the state project decisions.

“Our analysis shows that the most cost-effective investments include those that replace older diesel buses, trucks and equipment with new diesel options. The least cost-effective investments are replacing older school buses with all-electric solutions. That’s more clean air, faster for the trust fund dollar,” said Schaeffer.

“With limited VW trust dollars provided to the states, near-zero emissions diesel technology comes with a far lower price tag and a fueling infrastructure that already exists meaning more funds available to replace a greater number of older and higher emitting vehicles and equipment, deliver the greatest amount of emission reductions for a fixed investment.

“Since 2010, a new generation of diesel technology has become the standard for heavy-duty vehicles, delivering reductions of 98 percent of emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide. Getting more of this generation of vehicle on the road now will pay large benefits in terms of lower emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, particularly trucks operating in the most sensitive communities, and deliver those clean air benefits immediately.

The Forum’s analysis of state settlement spending data generally aligns with that of similar analysis reported recently by others

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and tribes, have access to the Volkswagen trust to replace older technologies with new cleaner options.  States may spend their funds in as little as 3 years or as long as 10 years. The effective date that established the trust was October 2, 2017.

 VW Projects by Fuel Type  VW Projects Pie Chart

Share of Diesel

Project Type


Vocational & Medium-Duty Trucks


Marine Engines & Vessels


Off-Road Equipment


Locomotive Engines & Locomotives


School Buses




Transit Buses

Background on the analysis
: Data was compiled as of August 17, 2020 by accessing public information provided by each state published on the lead agency websites, applications for project funding made public by the Trustee and individual outreach to contacts at state lead agencies.

States not reporting individual project awards include AR, AL, CA, KY, MS, MT, NM, NY, TN, VA. While all states have announced funding plans, the data reported here includes individual projects that have been funded where information on individual projects has been made public.

Data compiled does not account for light-duty electric vehicle charging stations or airport ground support equipment replacement that are eligible projects according to the settlement.

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About the Diesel Technology Forum
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, the Diesel Technology Forum is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel, and technology. Members of the Diesel Technology Forum are the leaders in advanced technology engines, vehicles, fuels, and equipment, both diesel and a range of alternative fuels, including electrification, hydrogen, natural gas, and others. For more information visit https://www.dieselforum.org/.

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Media Inquiries:
Allen Schaeffer
Executive Director
(301) 668-7230

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