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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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If anyone doubted Detroit could produce a reliable electric car that can be charged at home and make several trips without recharging, the proof was parked in the Oregon Convention Center: a 1917 Detroit Electric. Production of that car, which could travel up to 80 miles on a charge, began in 1907.

The Detroit Electric and conceptual descendents, such as the sporty Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf, served as backdrop to E.V. Road Map 3, a forum to discuss the benefits of electric vehicles and plan for their future. Sponsored by Portland State University and Portland General Electric, the conference came at a turning point for electric vehicles, said John MacArthur, director of OTREC’s Transportation Electrification Initiative.

“Once 2011 hit, we went from the theoretical to the applied,” MacArthur said. “Automakers are rolling out the vehicles, charging stations are popping up, and now they’re starting to be seen and tested.”

Perception remains the largest barrier to wider adoption of electric vehicles, he said. “There’s still this ‘range anxiety’ out there,” that is, people worry if the car has enough juice to get to their destination and back. “But once they drive one, they realize it’s not a big deal.”

That’s because most people don’t drive...

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Use of small electric vehicles is spreading from gated communities and college campuses onto city streets and even state highways. But should these vehicles share the road with heavier, faster ones?

In many situations, concluded Oregon State University researcher Kate Hunter-Zaworski, the answer is “no.” Hunter-Zaworski examined the vehicles, called neighborhood electric vehicles or low-speed electric vehicles in this OTREC project, co-sponsored by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Oregon regulations should limit the vehicles to roads with a speed limit of 25 mph and only allow them to cross faster roads at four-ways stops or traffic lights, she found.

In her just-published report, Hunter-Zaworski also urges transportation authorities to commit to separated transportation networks for all lower-speed transportation, including neighborhood electric vehicles. Such networks can connect neighborhoods to workplaces, schools and services with little use of busy roads.

Because neighborhood electric vehicles often look more like passenger cars than golf carts, their drivers and other road users might think they’re just as safe. But governments don’t classify neighborhood electric vehicles as passenger cars, and they aren’t subject to the same safety regulations. As a result, Hunter-Zaworski stresses the need to educate users about the risks.

...

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Reposted from the website Revenge of the Electric Car:

In the 2006 film, Who Killed the Electric Car? nearly 5,000 pure electric cars were collected and destroyed by GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and many others despite the efforts of activists to save them. Five years later, electric cars are back… with a vengeance. Revenge of the Electric Car is the new documentary from director Chris Paine — who took his film crew around the world to chronicle the resurgence of electric cars. From backyard mechanics converting Porsches to electrics, to the multi-million dollar Silicon Valley startup Tesla Motors, to deep behind closed doors at two of the world’s biggest car makers; Revenge of the Electric Car tells the electrifying story of the race to bring EVs back from the dead — just as the perils of the oil age are the deepest they’ve ever been. Check out the website to learn more about the new documentary in the works!

On NPR's Science Friday today Ira Flatow talked about the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan LEAF, comparing and contrasting the two soon-to-be-released vehicles.  Phil Ross (editor at IEEE Spectrum) joined him in the studio as well as Nick Perry from Nissan and Tony Posawatz from the Chevrolet.

Ira Flatow asks, is the wait for EVs over?  Would you buy one?  Are they safe? How long do you have to wait to get one? What kind of plug-in do you want to see?

Nationally, for the demand for these vehicles as reported by Nick Perry & Tony Posawatz:

  • 18,000 Nissan LEAFS reserved
  • Chevrolet cannot comment yet on the specifics of how many Volts are in demand, but Tony says its "overwhelming"
  • Over 12,000 public charging stations in the ground this Fall, nationwide (19 states)
  • Chevrolet aims to be manufacturing the Volt in the US and exporting it to China by 2020
  • All car companies in the world are working on the electric drive, because governments are demanding it, not because customers are clamoring for it.

The show also responded to the concerns of many different callers on the expected topics: 

  • Price point and rebates
  • Charging and range questions
  • Safety of lithium ion batteries (they're safe). The batteries lose capacity gradually with age, after 5 years 80% capacity, after 10 years 70% capacity;...
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