Apr 11, 2014

OTREC researchers and students from the Oregon Institute of Technology have teamed up with Green Lite Motors to test a next-generation hybrid car.

Green Lite Motors, a clean-tech start-up company based in Portland, Ore., has developed a small, three-wheeled, gas-electric hybrid vehicle based on the platform of a Suzuki Burgman scooter.

The vehicle is classed as a motorcycle, and has all the advantages of the smaller vehicle — it doesn’t take up a whole parking space, and it gives off fewer emissions — but it also has an advanced roll-cage design, giving it the safety and comfort of a standard passenger car. It has two wheels in the front, one in the back, and mileage possibilities greater than 100 miles per gallon.

The target market areas for this two-passenger vehicle are urban commute zones, where large numbers of people travel daily from suburban homes to city-based professions. 

The tiny hybrid car could change the commuting experience, minimizing gas expenditure and cutting down the time people spend looking for parking.

Green Lite has developed two prototypes.

The first...

Read more
Apr 12, 2013

OTREC research associate John MacArthur, in partnership with Drive Oregon, has been awarded a grant from Metro.

The grant is part of a $2.1 million effort by Metro to improve air quality and community health.

With the Metro grant, Drive Oregon and MacArthur plan to conduct a study of consumer perception and use of electric bicycles, pedal-bikes that provide extra propulsion from a rechargeable battery.

The idea is to see whether having the use of an e-bike will persuade non-bicycle-commuters to use a bike for the “first and last mile” of their daily commute; for example, to get from their workplace to the nearest MAX light rail station.

The e-bikes provided in the study will be foldable for convenient carrying onto the train. Ultimately, the partners of this study hope to increase the percentage of people who commute by bicycle and light rail, thus contributing to overall community health by reducing automobile emissions.

30 e-bikes will be loaned to 180 employees of Kaiser Permanente, at three designated work locations. Each participant will have the free use of an e-bike for one month, bookended by surveys about their expectations and perceptions of the experience.

MacArthur is conducting some overlapping research into e-bike use in a related OTREC...

Read more
Nov 13, 2012

The USDOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) 7thAnnual UTC Spotlight Conference on Sustainable Energy and Transportation: Strategies, Research, and Data was held on November 8-9 in Washington, DC and featured OTREC energy related research from Portland State University and Oregon State University. This year’s conference focused on promoting dialogue and coordination among University Transportation Centers (UTCs), federal agencies, industry, and state and local agencies on research to address the complex and challenging issues concerning sustainable energy and transportation. The plenary and breakout sessions focused on research to improve energy efficiency, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and identify of effective strategies to promote USDOT's strategic goals. As the U.S. moves toward a performance-based transportation bill, energy-focused environmental sustainability is expected to become one of the pillars against which success is measured if it is to become a national priority.

Dr. B. Starr McMullen, Oregon State University, took part on a plenary panel discussion on the interconnection of energy use, pricing and finance and highlighted two OTREC funded projects The Relationship Between VMT and Economic Activity and...

Read more
Jul 23, 2012

Widespread adoption of electric vehicles won’t happen without convenient charging points. But who should provide charging stations? Where should they be located? And how should they be set up?

Those are a few of the questions addressed in an OTREC report on the unique charging-station hub known as Electric Avenue. A block-long bank of chargers on the Portland State University campus, Electric Avenue provides an ideal test site for those seeking to prepare the way for electric vehicles.

Electric Avenue opened in August 2011 with eight parking spaces where vehicle owners can use a variety of chargers for free, paying only the cost of parking. Some chargers can recharge a battery in 30 minutes and others require hours per charge.

As the first installation of its kind, Electric Avenue illuminated both the promise and the difficulties electric vehicles represent. The report concluded that similar projects would be viable elsewhere, especially if planners and policy makers learn from the Electric Avenue experience, including:

  • With lead partners Portland State University, the city of Portland and utility Portland General Electric, Electric Avenue had the leadership to steer the project through the inevitable obstacles. A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities helps partners deal with unexpected costs and other challenges.
  • ...
Read more
Jul 03, 2012

When U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon set off on his all-electric drive across the state July 2, his first stop was Electric Avenue, the block-long charging station at Portland State University. Merkley plugged in his car to one of the Electric Avenue charging stations and addressed the crowd gathered on the plaza nearby.

Merkley’s Oil-Free Across Oregon trip is taking him from the Washington border to the California border, “the Columbia to the Redwoods,” he said. Without the recent investments in charging stations along the Interstate 5 corridor, the gaps between chargers would have made an all-electric journey difficult.

“I couldn’t have taken this trip a year ago,” Merkley said. Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Portland State President Wim Wiewel joined Merkley for remarks.

The trip follows the West Coast Electric Highway, a network of DC fast charging stations along I-5. The public charging stations, spaced 25 to 60 miles apart, allow a driver to charge up in 30 minutes or less. OTREC's Transportation Electrification Initiative is guiding the state of Oregon's electric vehicle plan and evaluating the DC fast-charge stations and user behavior to shape future investments.

Merkley is stopping in Salem, Halsey and Springfield on Monday and Roseburg, Canyonville...

Read more
Aug 23, 2011

OTREC has teamed up with Portland-based Green Lite Motors to bring a 100 mile-per-gallon vehicle closer to market. OTREC researchers at the Oregon Institute of Technology will evaluate and improve the performance of the two-seat vehicle.

The project grows out of a commercialization grant from the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center, or Oregon BEST. Oregon Tech researchers built a prototype model for Green Lite Motors under that grant.

"This is going to take it from a completed prototype to a refined drive system,” said Tim Miller, president and CEO of Green Lite Motors. “They’ll test the performance and efficiency of the hybrid drive system and we’ll be able to refine the software and other things that control the system and optimize its performance.”

The Oregon Tech team built a three-wheeled prototype vehicle based on the Suzuki Burgman 650 scooter platform. “It combines the best of several things,” Miller said. “You get the full enclosure and safety you have in a car but with the nimbleness and ease of parking of a motorcycle.”

Although researchers can adapt some of the auto industry’s testing methods, others don’t apply very well for such an unusual vehicle, said Oregon Tech Associate Professor James Long, the project’s principal investigator. “There aren’t many vehicles out there of this type, so we’ll be developing test scenarios...

Read more
May 10, 2011

As Portland prepares to welcome the first shipment of all-electric vehicles, other countries offer lessons on encouraging the vehicles’ adoption. On April 29, Jianhong Ye provided an overview of China’s electric vehicle promotional programs during a seminar at Portland State University. Jianhong spent 11 years at Tongji University in China earning a B.A., an M.A. and a Ph.D. in urban planning. He is conducting post-doctoral studies at Portland State.

Jianhong’s presentation illustrated how quickly China has moved to transition its public transportation system to electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and fuel-cell vehicles. The country is now nearing the end of a large-scale electrification shift for public service taxis and buses called the “Ten Cities and A Thousand Units” campaign, a joint project by four public ministries.

Every year since 2009 the program has distributed 1,000 EVs to 10 cities for public-service vehicles. The program is funded through 2012, by which time the Chinese government hopes to have 60,000 EVs in service. Of the vehicles distributed so far, 61 percent are HEVs, 38.5 percent are battery EVs and 0.5 percent are fuel-cell vehicles.

China also promotes private adoption of EVs by offering a national subsidy based on the battery size. As of October 2010, only 2,000 vehicles had been sold through this five-city demonstration, far short of China’s goal of 20,...

Read more
Apr 07, 2011

With its major cities clustered along 100 miles of the Willamette Valley, Oregon offers a fertile ground for electric vehicles and their limited range, George Beard of Portland State University said at a recent presentation. But Oregon’s readiness for electric vehicles doesn’t itself put one electric car on the road.

 

Beard, with Portland State’s Research & Strategic Partnerships, opened the Center for Transportation Studies’ spring Transportation Seminar Series with the presentation “Electric Vehicles: Are we in the Driver’s Seat?” It’s not just the population centers that make Oregon ripe for electric vehicles, Beard said. Automakers and governments have also invested heavily to deploy the technology in the state.

Oregon spends roughly $6 billion per year on gasoline, with nearly all of that money leaving the state, Beard said. Switching to a locally produced energy source could keep more of that money in the state.

Of course, predicting the future is never that simple, Beard said. Drivers unhappy with congestion won’t see that problem disappear because their cars now run on electricity. “Traffic congestion is a real killer,” he said.

“There’s no silver bullet that will solve our mobility problems,” he said. ”You’ve got to have a number of approaches for being able to move people and goods.”

For a technology that doesn’t require foreign oil, the fate of electric vehicles is intertwined with the oil cartels, Beard said. The...

Read more
Apr 07, 2011

By 2020, the Eugene-Springfield area could have 15,000 electric vehicles on the road. In March, regional leaders took a big step toward making sure their communities will be ready.

The Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), University of Oregon’s Community Service Center and the city of Eugene hosted a forum March 30 to discuss the future of electric vehicles. A culmination of a yearlong OTREC-funded project to assess the implications of electric vehicles, the forum identified and analyzed key issues and opportunities for Eugene-Springfield.The event brought together over 30 invited representatives of the city of Eugene, Lane County, local industry and other interested partners to hear three perspectives on the issue.

Speaking at the event were:

  • George Beard, Portland State University, Office of Research & Strategic Partnerships
  • Art James, Oregon Department of Transportation, Office of Innovation, Project Director, Oregon EV Initiative
  • Bob Parker, University of Oregon, Community Service Center

The forum covered key industry developments and regional initiatives, and offered insights into potential impacts to local agencies and potential consumers. EWEB and the City of Eugene are planning for the infrastructure to support the charging of between 12,000 and 15,000 electric vehicles.

In a few months, the city of Eugene hopes to have several public electric car charging stations...

Read more
Mar 09, 2011

Fleet managers can benefit from buying electric vehicles under certain conditions, according to a research paper by Portland State University associate professor Miguel Figliozzi. The paper marks OTREC’s first electric vehicle-related research accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

In the paper, set for publication in the Transportation Research Record, Figliozzi presents a vehicle replacement model that compares the benefits of conventional and electric vehicles under various scenarios. Incorporating electric vehicles makes the most sense for heavily used fleets when gasoline prices are high, assuming electric vehicle tax credits continue.

Until their purchase price drops, electric vehicles won’t make financial sense for fleet managers without some incentives. “Tax credits are important, especially at the beginning, given the higher price of EVs,” Figliozzi said. “The federal tax credit is roughly 20 percent of the (Nissan) Leaf’s list price and it makes a difference.”

The model presented in the paper shows that fleets will start to include a few electric vehicles with gas at $4.10 per gallon, assuming the existing tax credits. In heavily used fleets, defined...

Read more

Pages