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

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...

6 highlights from the Craft Brewers Conference

The Latest
Friday, April 17, 2015
thumbPHOTOS BY  JASON E. KAPLAN

The 32nd annual CBC attracted a record number of attendees (11,000)  to the Oregon Convention Center.


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...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

10 Oregon companies positioning themselves for growth

The Latest
Friday, March 13, 2015
vcthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Ten startups have secured venture capital, angel or seed funding in 2015.


Read more...

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Male tech workers speak out on the industry's gender troubles.


Read more...

Much ado about data-driven organizations, for good reason

Contributed Blogs
Monday, April 13, 2015
bigdatathumbBY GRANT KIRBY | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

The mega-shift from technology-driven to data-driven organizations raises questions about Oregon’s workforce preparedness.


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