Feb 01, 2011

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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Aug 19, 2010

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!

Aug 11, 2010

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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Aug 10, 2010

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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Aug 08, 2010

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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Apr 14, 2009

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.

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