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Volkswagen of America plans to invest $10 million in electric vehicle charging equipment by 2016 as the automaker ramps up the launch its battery-powered e-Golf in the United States.

Jorg Sommer, the company's vice president of product marketing and strategy, said Tuesday the automaker will invest to support installation of charging stations in certain dealer locations, though no sites were named.

VW and BMW recently announced an initiative with Chargepoint to support development of express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West coasts.

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An electric plug charges a Smart Car electric drive vehicle.

"In addition to the investment we and other companies and industries are making, we would like to see federal financing support for establishing fast charging networks in urban areas and interstate corridors," Sommer said in a statement.

Sommer, speaking at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington, D.C., also said the company would like more government organizations to commit to cleaner fleets.

Last month, VW unveiled at the Detroit auto show a plug-in hybrid version of a new sport utility vehicle the company is looking at producing, possibly at its Chattanooga plant. The Cross Coupe GTE is a slightly smaller version of its CrossBlue SUV which VW already has committed to building in Chattanooga.

VW is investing $600 million into the Chattanooga factory with plans to hire another 2,000 workers.

The e-Golf has come on the market as electric vehicle sales drop, in part due to falling gasoline prices, said Karl Brauer, senior director of insights for Kelley Blue Book.

While sales of battery-powered vehicles were dipping before fuel prices fell, the momentum has increased away from electrics and hybrids, Brauer said.

For example, electric vehicle sales for the Nissan Leaf, the most popular EV in the U.S., fell 14.5 percent in January compared with a year ago.

USA Today said the e-Golf has been on sale since November in California and nine other states, plus the District of Columbia, where governments' require a percentage of "zero local emissions" cars. The e-Golf is offered only as well-equipped SEL Premium at $36,265.

VW rates the e-Golf's real-world range at 70 to 90 miles before a charge is needed.

Sommer said VW's goal in the Chargepoint program is to install nearly 100 DC fast chargers across both coasts, aiming to have charging sites no more than 50 miles apart.

In addition, e-Golf customers will have the opportunity to purchase home charging installation and hardware packages from Bosch, according to VW.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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