Home Back Issues September 2010 Electric vehicle hype bigger than investment

Electric vehicle hype bigger than investment

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
0910_ATS15
The nation's first high-speed charging station opened in Portland last month. // PHOTO COURTESY OF NISSAN

It was a glamorous press conference for an underground parking garage. Gov. Ted Kulongoski wore a pink tie and shared the stage at the August event with executives from Portland General Electric, Nissan and NEC to promote the nation’s first quick-charge station for electric vehicles, built by NEC underneath PGE’s Portland headquarters. Kulongoski praised the charger as “another critical step in the transition” from fossil fuels to EVs, and then zipped out for a test drive of the new Nissan Leaf.

With state support, PGE, Nissan and other businesses are building a network of charging stations from Portland to Eugene in preparation for a flurry of purchases once the latest EVs arrive. Oregon is also one of five states sharing in a $100 million federal grant to expand EV business and collect market data from drivers.

But there’s more to leading the transition to electric vehicles than buying the latest Nissan. Major local investments from Norwegian carmaker Think Global and Chinese battery giant BYD have fallen through, and EV startups from Portland to Eugene to Ashland are struggling to get rolling.

In Northwest Portland, Porteon CEO Ken Montler has a light prototype that maxes out at 35 mph for around-town trips. He hopes to manufacture in Portland once he secures funding. “There’s a whole lot of interest here in Oregon, but you need investors,” he says.

The same applies for Arcimoto, the Eugene-based designer of a three-wheeled EV called the Pulse. The nine-employee company has received a few dozen $500 deposits through its website but needs backing to crank out its first 500 cars in 2011 as planned. Arcimoto CEO Mark Frohnmayer is looking for “early-stage investors whose portfolio strategy includes doing well by saving the planet.”

Ambiente Motors founder Melissa Brandao has a similar pitch but a different plan. She’s trying to raise money for a design and marketing center in Ashland while a sister company in Brazil builds the vehicles — lightweight, nimble electric trucks for in-city commercial use.

Brandao, the only woman running an EV company in the world, has experience starting up businesses in foreign countries from Russia to Chile. She believes Brazil is an ideal market for EVs designed in Oregon because the economy is growing quickly there with a strong emphasis on green. She isn’t hiring yet, but she has five employees identified and ready to work — once the money comes through.

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Portland rises

News
Monday, August 18, 2014

IMG 2551Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.


Read more...

Launch

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.


Read more...

Molecular Movies

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together. 


Read more...

Report Card

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Strong public schools shore up the economy, survey respondents say. But local schools demonstrate lackluster performance.


Read more...

Register for 100 Best Companies survey

News
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
OBM-100-best-logo-2015 150pxwBy Kim Moore | OB Editor

The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.


Read more...

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


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