Elon Musk Signs Letter Advising Volkswagen To Pay For Emissions-Cheating Scandal By Making Zero-Emission Cars

Dec 18, 2015 11:21 AM EST | John Nassivera

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has become the latest signee of a letter sent to California emissions regulators that advises them to have Volkswagen make up for its emissions-cheating scandal by producing zero-emission cars in the future.

The letter, which was sent Thursday, offers an alternative to making the German automaker fix the diesel cars that were given software that allowed them to emit less pollutants during emissions tests than they do on the road, .

"A giant sum of money [will] be wasted in attempting to fix cars that cannot all be fixed, and where the fix may be worse than the problem if the cars are crushed well before the end of their useful lives," the letter reads. "Instead, direct VW to accelerate greatly its rollout of zero-emission vehicles, which by their very nature, have zero emissions and thus present zero opportunities for cheating, and also do not require any enforcement dollars to verify."

The move follows a month after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ordered VW to recall all of its cars that had the special software.

The letter, sent to CARB chairwoman Mary Nichols, says the diesel cars on California's roads "represent an insignificant portion of total vehicle emissions in the state" and pose no health risks to their owners, . It argues that making VW use the money that would go towards fixing these vehicles to instead make green cars would have more environmental and economic benefits.

The "rollout of zero-emission vehicles" would result in a "10 for 1 or greater reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to the pollution associated with the diesel fleet cheating."

Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes said that Musk wasn't involved in creating or writing the letter, but was instead asked to endorse it a few days before it was to be submitted, adding that it "seemed like a good idea."

Forty-five activists and leaders in "green" businesses and environmental groups have signed the letter, including former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune and clean energy firm Energy Innovation CEO Hal Harvey, Newsweek noted.

CARB declined to directly address Musk's signing of the letter, with spokesman David Clegern said in an email about the letter that the organization will continue to focus on "cleaning the air and advancing the cleanest vehicle and fuel technologies."

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