Electric Cars in Oregon

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President Obama wants to cut U.S. oil imports by a third over 10 years, as high gasoline prices threaten economic recovery. The U.S. has lurched from different transportation energy policies[1] in the past several years, favoring fuel cells and then biofuels and now electrification and hydrogen. How far electrification will go is still unclear. Electric vehicles will reduce green house gases and dependence on foreign oil say advocates.

Oregon is coordinating many activities to facilitate successful, widespread deployment of plug-in vehicles[2], reports the Department of Energy. In 2004, Oregon's strategy for greenhouse gas reduction report[3] showed that motor vehicles accounted for more than one-third of Oregon's GHG emissions.

Arcimoto electric vehicle

Portland Mayor Sam Adams has pledged to implement a "comprehensive Green Fleet vehicle plan" that includes having 20% of the City's 2,800 vehicles run on electricity by 2030.

Ryno Motors
There are 40 companies building either electric vehicles or component parts[4], says Drive Oregon[5]. Oregon-made electric vehicles[6] include Arcimoto[7] Brammo[8], Ryno Motors[9], Green Lite Motors[10], MotoCzysz[11] as well as EV Charging Station manufacturers Shorepower[12] and Optimization Technologies[13]. Charging overnight, at non-peak times, helps balance demands on the grid and grid energy storage[14] may help demand spikes.


Ryno Motors was conceived by inventor Chris Hoffmann’s daughter. She envisioned a Starwar's like scooter with a single wheel. Hoffmann built it, and hopes his Vancouver, Washington, start-up will change urban transportation.


Since 2009, the DOE has invested more than $5 billion in grants and loans to spur the growth of the U.S.' electric-vehicle and advanced battery manufacturing industry. Under the Transportation Electrification Initiative (TEI), which received $400 million under ARRA, the federal government hopes to assist in deploying over 22,000 charging points in residential, commercial, and public locations nationwide by December 2013. President Obama has set an ambitious goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Today, that number is essentially zero.


Projected Sales of U.S. Electric Vehicles

Sales of electric vehicles in the United States (above) is expected to grow dramatically in the next 10-20 years, even under conservative scenarios, says a Berkeley study.

But small, under-the-radar electric car companies, face big competition, say industry observers. Think, a Norway-based automaker that makes the two-seat electric car, for example, had battery maker Ener1, which held a 31-percent equity stake, bail on their relatively expensive vehicle.

CT&T United, the world's largest manufacturer of battery electric vehicles, announced plans to hire hundreds of Americans in new factories in Hawaii, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. But the South Korean electric car and golf cart manufacturer has apparently abandoned that pledge — without notice — amid financial difficulties.

Tesla Motors plans to raise $234 million through a secondary IPO, while Fisker Automotive says that it will have 45 dealerships across the U.S. by the end of July.

Chevrolet Volt
The Nissan Leaf[15], an all electric car[16], is being tested in Portland, as are Chevrolet Volt[17] and Ford's Focus Electric[18]. Plug-in hybrids[19] have much smaller batteries, running perhaps 10-40 miles on electricity before using a gas engine.

Chevrolet's Volt[20] (right) is a variant of a plug-in hybrid, in that it goes about 40 miles on batteries and can be plugged in at night. It doesn't switch to gas drive train like the Prius. Instead, the Volt's gas motor drives an electric generator for the car. The best selling Toyota Prius[21] uses a conventional gas engine but runs on a small battery for the first 4-6 miles. The plug-in hybrid Prius[22] has a bigger battery with a 12 mile range. Batteries can be recharged by plugging them in. That's cheaper than using the car's gas-powered generator to charge them up. Zip Car in Oregon is now offering two plug-in Prius cars for $7/hr.

Electric vehicle charge stations within 100 miles of downtown Portland

Ford named Portland as one of the 25 best cities for electric cars. Ford is gearing up to launch the all-new Focus Electric later this year and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in 2012.

Both the ground breaking Nissan Leaf[23] and the eStar will be limited to a 100 mile range on their Lithium Ion batteries[24]. The Leaf runs only on batteries. When it's out of juice, it's dead. The Nissan Leaf costs $33,000 (before rebates), and has been described as a $16,500 subcompact car that costs double that thanks to a battery estimated to cost $16,500. The Navistar eStar[25], an electric truck, will sell for $150,000 and totes a battery estimated to cost nearly $75,000.

Ford Focus Electric

About 25% of Ford's fleet will be electrified by 2020, up from just a couple percent today, says CEO Bill Ford. But the price of oil is hard to predict, so Ford is investing in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and pure electrics.

The electric highway project
Oregon's Electric Vehicle Charging Network[26] is extending electric car charging stations along the I-5 corridor. It costs only $2-$3 to charge up an all electric car. Electric vehicles keep oil money in the country and may develop a new industry based on innovation - or so the thinking goes.

Chargeportland.com provides information about electric car charging stations and how to apply for an online permit for your electric vehicle.

Shore Power Charge Station

Eaton Corporation and Mitsubishi will make charging stations at its 85-person plant in Wilsonville. So far, the market has been led by startups such as Coloumb Technologies and ECOtality, the San Francisco-based company leading the federally fund EV Project.

Other local companies such as Shorepower Technologies (left) and Beaverton-based OpConnect are also trying to carve out space in the market. BP plans to install up to 1,000 chargers at BP and Arco gas stations along the Interstate 5 corridor.


ECOtality's Fast chargers[27] are available in Portland and Eugene, south to the California border creating a system of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations along the entire length of Interstate 5 in Oregon.

AeroVironment has been selected by ODoT to install its high-power Level 3 fast charging stations along the I-5 corridor. The stations will be placed at convenient locations along a 150-mile span of the I-5 and allow drivers to recharge a fully-discharged car in less than 30 minutes. In addition to 480-volt fast charging stations, AeroVironment also provides J-1772 compliant 240-volt Level 2 charging stations. Level 2 chargers, using 220, take about 4 hours to charge a car that's 80% discharged, while Level 1 chargers, using standard 110 volt AC, take about 8 hours.

Washington State's Electric Highway project[28] (right), aims to provide enough charge stations to enable longer range traveling. Today's electric cars, typically run out of juice around 100 miles after topped off.

Shore Power Charge Station

Here's the 2011 Electrathon at PIR where students compete with their school-built cars.

EV4Oregon.com[29] combines Solarworld panels, with Enphase microinverters, battery storage and 220 volt utility feeds to create Electric Vehicle carports that offers Level 1 (30 minute charging) without the expense of a 440 volt line drop[30]. The system claims a 20-minute electric vehicle charging capability by combining battery and 220 volt line power.

The City of Hillsboro is the first in the State of Oregon to install Coulomb Technologies[31] Level II ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations[32] for plug-in and electric vehicles. Thirteen Level II charging stations are now installed in downtown Hillsboro[33] at their new green intermodal transit facility. Portland-based Shorepower Technologies[34] is currently deploying Electrified Parking Spaces[35] (EPS) across North America. OpConnect, an Oregon company with offices in Beaverton, has developed a network of suppliers and partners for an Electric Vehicle Charging System.

The U.S. DOT awarded Oregon a $2 million TIGER II grant for a fast electric vehicle charging across the entire 1,350 miles of I-5, serving the 2 million electric vehicles anticipated on the west coast.

PGE installed the first publicly available fast charger in the United States in the summer of 2010 in its parking garage in downtown Portland. NEC's Takasago Rapid Charging Station[36] complies with the CHAdeMO[37] EV charging standard, and comes in 50kW and 20kW capacities[38] for 15-30 minute charging. A 20 minute quick charger[39] might utilize a 45-kilowatt photovoltaic carport[40].

Zinc-Air Battery from ReVolt

ReVolt[41], with headquarters in Portland, is developing Zinc-Air batteries[42]. Lithium-air[43] is said to be the dream battery. Electric vehicles are anticipated to have a range of 200 to 400 miles in the foreseeable future. Cost/effective batteries, with 2-3 times the present capacity, may largely resolve many range anxiety issues by allowing all day driving with overnight charging.

A Denmark battery company[44], Lithium Balance[45], has its eye on Portland as a potential U.S. headquarters. They build lithium batteries for industrial, military and consumer vehicles.

Large scale Lithium Battery Pack for electric vehicles

Lithium Balance hopes to make large Lithion Ion cells. Today, most battery packs are made from small cells, about the size of "D" batteries, in order to make them safer. The Prius Plug in and Hybrid uses NiMH batteries while the The Nissan Leaf uses a 24 kW/hr lithium-ion battery of their own design.

Lithium battery competition comes from A123 Systems, Ener1, Dow Kokam and LG Chem, which has set a goal of 25% global battery market share. The Volt's battery cells are produced by LG Chem in South Korea.

The overall market for energy storage technologies that power electric vehicles is set to grow from $13 billion in 2011 to $30 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%. But, while prominent plug-in passenger cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf grab most of the headlines, the bulk of future growth will be driven by more humble vehicles, such as e-bikes and micro-hybrids, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Hybrid-powered Streetcar


Seattle's Sound Transit ordered 62 electric streetcars from Kinkisharyo. Their new LFX-300 ‘hybrid’ streetcar runs on batteries. It charges while running on overhead catenary power, but switches to internal 42K watt Lithium Ion batteries in feeder lines that eliminate expensive and ugly overhead power lines.

Hybrid-powered Streetcar diagram

Ameritram says a 5 mile streetcar system, utilizing a fleet of 7 of their hybrid-powered streetcars, could save about $36 Million over the 30 year life of the system.

Portland's United Streetcar


Perhaps United Streetcar, a spin-off of Oregon Iron Works, might team with Revolt batteries for a cost/effective, made in USA solution.


Battery powered electric cab

Excluding the $7,500 federal tax credit, the Volt and the Leaf, currently cost $41,000 and $32,780, respectively (both vehicles lease for $349 a month).

EV Costs
A 2010 Deloitte report, found that more than half of the US consumers would not be willing to pay more for an electric vehicle.

However, batteries are expected to get cheaper and longer range as gas gets more expensive. Energy Secretary Chu believes that before the end of the decade EVs will be “one-third the cost of today’s batteries with at least three times the range. Deloitte found that 70% of drivers surveyed wanted 300 mile range before purchasing one.

DriveOregon.org and the WestCoastGreenHighway[46] has the latest on charging stations. The Oregon Electric Vehicle Association has a Facebook page, Twitter Feed and Weekly Newspaper.

Here's everything you wanted to know about EV batteries.

NEXT: Energy Storage in Oregon

Back to: Green industry <<
  1. The U.S. has lurched from different transportation energy policies
  2. Oregon is coordinating many activities to facilitate successful, widespread deployment of plug-in vehicles
  3. Oregon's strategy for greenhouse gas reduction report
  4. There are 40 companies building either electric vehicles or component parts
  5. Drive Oregon
  6. Oregon-made electric vehicles
  7. Arcimoto
  8. Brammo
  9. Ryno Motors
  10. Green Lite Motors
  11. MotoCzysz
  12. Shorepower
  13. http://www.opconnect.com/welcome.aspx Optimization Technologies]
  14. grid energy storage
  15. Nissan Leaf
  16. all electric car
  17. Chevrolet Volt
  18. Ford's Focus Electric
  19. Plug-in hybrids
  20. Chevrolet's Volt
  21. Toyota Prius
  22. The plug-in hybrid Prius
  23. Nissan Leaf
  24. Lithium Ion batteries
  25. The Navistar eStar
  26. [http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/OIPP/inn_ev-charging.shtml/ Oregon's Electric Vehicle Charging Network
  27. ECOtality's Fast chargers
  28. Washington State's Electric Highway project
  29. EV4Oregon.com
  30. offers Level 1 (30 minute charging) without the expense of a 440 volt line drop
  31. Coulomb Technologies
  32. ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations
  33. Thirteen Level II charging stations are now installed in downtown Hillsboro
  34. Shorepower Technologies
  35. Electrified Parking Spaces
  36. NEC's Takasago Rapid Charging Station
  37. CHAdeMO
  38. 50kW and 20kW capacities
  39. A 20 minute quick charger
  40. a 45-kilowatt photovoltaic carport
  41. ReVolt
  42. developing Zinc-Air batteries
  43. Lithium-air
  44. A Denmark battery company
  45. Lithium Balance
  46. WestCoastGreenHighway