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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Posted by Mark Nystrom, Oregon Fellow working for the Association of Oregon Counties

Over the past few weeks I have been gathering information about how communities outside the I-5 corridor feel about the electrification of transportation.  This task has led me on trips with Sarah to Coos County, Tillamook County and most recently Harney County. 

When I was first given this task I was uncertain how rural Oregon would respond to the idea of electrification.  After all, everyone knows that people away from the I-5 live on ranches and drive hundreds of miles a day.  Or that seems to be the prevailing thought.  According to an ODOT study, rural Oregonians actually spend about the same amount of time in their cars as their counterparts in Portland.  In fact, most people live in towns and make the same standard trips in their cars as people in Eugene, Salem or Portland: they drive their kids to school and practice, they go to work, they go grocery shopping.  In other words, the majority of people living outside the I-5 corridor could replace their gas fueled car with a PEV.  Even the residents of these communities seemed surprised at how little they actually use their car.

That’s what has made these trips so interesting.  Once people starting thinking about it, they get pretty excited.  The people on the coast are excited about the prospect of attracting tourists from the I-5 communities to their towns by setting up charging stations.  They recognize...

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I've been thinking a lot about electric vehicles and have spent most of the summer talking to people about cars.  Over drinks at the brew-pup, at dinner parties, and cold calling folks in car related industries--- I've noodled a lot of opinions and perspective out of friends and strangers.  One thing that has come up consistently in these conversations is the cost of electric vehicles, followed by all the range and charging questions.  The cost issue is a nagging one in the back of my mind.  Yes, the cars cost money.  Yes, the cars cost quite a bit of money.  But wouldn't the sticker price be eventually smoothed out over the life of the vehicle? After all, you wouldn't be paying for much gasoline with most of the new EVs coming out, and in the case of the Leaf, you would only pay for electricity.  I've wondered about this all summer, so I finally started hunting through all my resources and I found a few car cost calculators online.  There are several out there.  Each make a different set of assumptions and none are perfect, but they do look at the life cycle costs of vehicle ownership, an essential thing to consider when making a decision about any type of car.   

The best one is the Project Get Ready Calculator by the Rocky Mountain Institute.  It allows you to select your state and inputs your current energy and gas prices.  It also allows you to choose from around 50...

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OTREC participated in a research and technology funding discussion led by Mike Quear, congressional staffer. The visit consisted of two parts: a discussion with the Deans and faculty representing the major sciences at Portland State University; and a tour of the OTREC including highlighting collaborative research undertaken by the ITS Lab and electric vehicle initiatives being supported by OTREC. Mike Quear is Staff Director for the Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. He has worked for the Committee for the past 19 years. We always look forward to the thought provoking discussions that his visits provide.

PSU and OSU helped showcase the promise of electric vehicles in Oregon on Wednesday, April 8th by hosting Nissanís EV-02 model on each campus. Nissan announced that it plans to launch the fully electric vehicle in Oregon in 2010. At PSUís Urban Center, Angus Duncan (Chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission), Joe Barra (Director of Customer Energy Resources for PGE), John MacArthur (Sustainable Transportation Program Manager for OTREC), and Tracy Woodard (Director of Government Affairs for Nissan-USA) briefed an audience of students, staff and faculty on the emergence of electric vehicles of Oregon. On OSUís campus, University President Ed Ray ìkicked the tiresî and engineering students exhibited their own car design and construction projects, including the SAE Formula and Baja Teams and the Solar Vehicle team. Also, OSU faculty had an opportunity to brief Nissan representatives regarding their education and research programs that prepare talent and spin out technology for this new industry.

The video begins at 1:12.

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Summary: Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but have yet to realize their potential in the United States, although recently the number of e-bikes has been growing. Research on the economic, operational, and safety issues of e-bikes in the U.S. is limited. This research aims in part to understand if different bicycling technology, in this case electric assist bicycles or e-bikes, can reduce barriers to bicycling and encourage more bike trips and longer bike trips, and increase the diversity of people bicycling, including people with a disability or chronic injury to bicycle. Some of these barriers include trip distance, topography, time, and rider effort. E-bikes typically resemble a standard pedal bicycle with the addition of a rechargeable battery and electric motor to assist the rider with propulsion. To answer these questions, we conducted an online survey of existing e-bike users on their purchase and use decisions. Results from 553 e-bike users across North America are analyzed here. Results suggest that e-bikes are enabling users to bike more often, to more distant locations, and to carry more cargo with them. Additionally, e-bikes allow people who would otherwise not be able to bike because of physical limitations or...

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The video begins at 4:13.

Wei Feng: Impacts of Economic, Technological and Operational Factors on the Economic Competitiveness of Electric Commercial Vehicles in Fleet Replacement Decisions

Electric commercial vehicles (ECV) have the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and pollution in urban areas. In addition, ECVs have lower per-mile operating costs and potentially lower maintenance costs. However, the initial purchase cost of ECVs is significantly higher than the purchase cost of a conventional diesel vehicle. From a purely economic perspective, there is a cost tradeoff between the low operating and maintenance costs of ECVs and their high initial capital costs.  In this paper, a fleet replacement optimization framework is employed to analyze the competitiveness of ECVs. Scenarios with different fleet utilization, fuel efficiency and sensitivity analysis of ten additional factors indicate that ECVs are more cost effective when conventional diesel vehicles’ fuel efficiency is low (8.2 miles/gallon) and daily utilization is more than 54 miles. Breakeven values of some key economic and technological factors that separate the competitiveness between ECVs and conventional diesel vehicles are calculated in all scenarios. For example, in low conventional diesel vehicle fuel efficiency and low daily utilization scenario, ECVs are more competitive when their purchase prices...

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