Baby, you can drive my electric car

| Print |  Email
Friday, May 01, 2009


ATSThinkcar

Gov. Ted Kulongoski at a recent test-drive of  Think Global’s electric car.
PHOTO BY OREGON BUSINESS

PORTLAND The prospect of replacing soon-to-be-lost Freightliner jobs with a forward-thinking, emissions-free hub of electric vehicle manufacturing centered in Portland is certainly a tantalizing scenario to consider. It plays right into the state’s earnest attempts to prove itself as the green capital of the civilized world, and it would seem to justify whatever generous subsidies and creative financing packages might be required.

But how realistic is it?

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has been test-driving a lot of shiny, silent prototypes lately as he and his recruitment specialists attempt to snag Nissan, Mitsubishi, Norwegian electric car specialist Think Global and BYD, the largest battery manufacturer in China. Porteon, an e-car startup based in Northwest Portland, is also honing in on a product launch to supplement a push to turn Portland into what CEO Ken Montler calls “a center of excellence for manufacturing electric vehicles.”

But the red flags are difficult to ignore. For one thing, the Michigan license plate on the back of the Think Car piloted by the governor serves as a reminder that Oregon is just one of seven states the company is considering for its proposed 300-job factory. The incentives arms race is on, and the winner may end up being the team that buys into the hype most readily.

Then there is the matter of bankruptcy. Think Global is in rather desperate need of capital to pay off its European creditors before it can expand into Oregon or anywhere else.

Also scrapping for cash is Portland’s Ecomotion dealership, which moved onto Northeast Sandy to capitalize on the city’s green buying power, only to be outlasted by Vic Alfonso’s nearby Hummer and Cadillac dealership.

Ecomotion was offering the hottest prices in the country for electric cars and trucks in February: 2008 Zap sedans for $6,900 and 2008 Zap trucks for $7,900, plus up to $1,250 in Oregon tax credits. The dealership’s impending closure shows e-cars have a ways to go.

E-car sales probably will pick up once Nissan and Mitsubishi start their big marketing pushes in Oregon with faster, more efficient models. But it remains to be seen whether Oregon’s hefty bet on the future of e-vehicles will develop into a big winner as with solar power or a botched boondoggle in the tradition of corn ethanol.

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

100 Best: The Power of the Worker

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
AND AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Technology is empowering people like never before and transforming how employees interact in the workplace. How can companies attract and keep staff engaged in this rapidly changing world?


Read more...

Meeting Facilities Perspective

March 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A conversation with Donna Earley, director of sales and marketing for the Salem Convention Center.


Read more...

Grassroots movement pursues carbon bills

News
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
eventthumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A partnership of a grassroots environmental organization and a youth group is striving to build community and business support for carbon price legislation.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...

10 Twitter highlights from #OR100Best

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
100bestBY OB STAFF

Oregon Business held its  22nd annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon celebration Thursday night in the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS