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Oregon and the Electric car comeback

January 14, 2011

Business News Note: Nissan’s electric vehicle 2011 campaign for the Leaf car is being limited to seven states (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, and Hawaii) with later states to follow.  Portland General Electric caught Nissan executives completely by surprise by installing 100 charging stations to help welcome the new car.

José Pinomesa,

Electric vehicles are nothing new. They were invented sometime during the 1830s in Scotland and later produced on a bigger level by France and Great Britain. In 1895 America began their interest in electric vehicles with a handful of companies producing them. It did not take long for them to die off because by the 1920s America had many more miles of roadway which called for the need of longer range vehicles, oil was a lot more affordable, starter motors were invented so hand cranks were not needed and the mass production of the internal combustion engines by Henry Ford.

By 1935 electric vehicles had disappeared since a gas vehicle could be purchased for about a third of what an electric vehicle cost. It was not until the 1960s and 1970 that the need for alternative fueled vehicles popped up again to reduce emissions. Small electric cars were produced as well as light duty commercial vehicles with a range of forty to sixty miles on a charge. Once the 1980’s came about these ideas also quickly faded.

It was not until the 1990s that many legislative and regulatory actions in the US led to create electric vehicle development efforts. This is when the Big Three auto manufacturers and others in conjunction with the Department of Energy created Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). This got the ball rolling with the creation of many test models which included the GM EV1. Turned out to be a great electric car but before you know it these vehicles were all recalled and this was the end of them. Later it was revealed that all these cars were sent to be crushed and you never heard another word.

It was just ten years ago that the Toyota Prius came out as a 2001 model. It truly changed everything with a combination of electric motor and gas engine. Fuel prices fluctuated for years after it was released but when fuel prices hit there highest ever in 2008 they were the most popular vehicles on the road. Following the decline of fuel prices with the bad US economy they were close to impossible to sell.

It’s 2011 and electric vehicles are coming back again. This will be the year that electrics make it back with Oregon leading the pack. Different than many times in the past I feel they are here to stay this time around. We have all heard of Tesla but since they are out of reach for most people due to their high cost you will be introduced to two new electric cars that will be much more affordable. Chevrolet will produce the Volt and Nissan will produce the Leaf. The $7500 tax credit will kick start the sale of these vehicles with most cars being sold out for at least the next year. Thanks to a grant from the US Department of Energy there are more than 2000 charging stations being installed now in homes and businesses throughout the state. There will also be up to 24 DC fast charge stations going in by 2012 along such routes as US 26, I-84, US 20, OR 18, OR 99W and US 101.

Because of this Oregon really stands out and this is one of the leading reasons why vehicle and charging station manufacturers have their eye on Oregon. They plan to do a lot of business here and that is because we are ready. Oregon is laying out the infrastructure with partnerships all over the state including one of the best with Portland General Electric.

Keep in mind that if you want one of these electric vehicles all I can say is hang in there because until manufacturing can be pushed up it will more than likely take a while.

This article was written by José Pinomesa who is the owner of José Mesa Auto Wholesale, LLC. JMAW is a retail auto dealer in Portland who has been selling new and used cars and trucks since 1992. For more information please visit www.josemesa.com.

  
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Discuss this article

Bob Clark January 14, 2011

No thanks. I don’t want an electric car anytime soon. Without the credit, the extra cost of these limited range alternative fuel vehicles is between $3k and $6k more than the comparable gasoline powered verhicle. You can buy an awful lot of $5 gallon gasoline for this kind of front in cost premium.

Even after ten years of being on the market (Prius), electric cars are said to only make up about 1% of total U.S vehicle sales. Federal and state government looks to be turning away from deficit spending, and so the credits may not be around for a whole lot longer.

Sorry to rain on your parade but the U.S. needs to put away the fairy tale books and start drilling for more oil up there in Alaska.

But keep on tinkering with the battery technology and maybe today’s fairytale can become tomorrow’s reality. Got to know when to use it, know when to back away and muse (over) it!

Patrick Connor January 14, 2011

@Bob. “No thanks. I don’t want an electric car”
Nissan and GM currently can not make their cars fast enough to meet the current demand. So no one is forcing you to get one.

“You can buy an awful lot of $5 gallon gasoline for this kind of front in cost premium.”
There are plenty of things other than the price to consider: national security, war, military spending, pollution, environmental devastation, CO2… And looking at a 10-12 year lifespan, I see EV total cost of ownership as cheaper.

“Even after ten years of being on the market (Prius), electric cars are said to only make up about 1% of total U.S vehicle sales.”
The Prius is a very profitable line for Toyota. In Oregon hybrid sales are closer to 3%. Regardless, 1% of a $50B industry is a big market for many businesses to pursue. Plug-in cars are likely to grow faster than HEVs since several auto manufacturers want to have the “next Prius”.

“Federal and state government looks to be turning away from deficit spending, and so the credits may not be around for a whole lot longer.”
Our petrol addiction is costing orders of magnitude more than any EV credits.

“U.S. needs to put away the fairy tale books and start drilling”
The fairy tale is assuming that more supply of something that is causing problems can cure the problem. Or assuming our nation can ignore new technology and expect to stay a world leader in technology.

“But keep on tinkering with the battery technology”
This is one thing that we agree on. Battery technology has been getting better by about 8% each year. This is not at a Moore’s Law rate, but it does mean that there will be compounding improvements. The best way to drive that improvement is to have businesses competing for this emerging market space.

Alan January 14, 2011

“U.S. needs to put away the fairy tale books and start drilling”

The fairy tale is that drilling will make a noticeable impact. There isn’t enough there to make a noticeable difference.

“the extra cost of these limited range alternative fuel vehicles is between $3k and $6k more than the comparable gasoline powered verhicle”

A Prius at 48mpg will use $6250 worth of gas at $3/g over 100,000 miles; and Explorer at 17mpg will use $17647. An EV at 250wh/mile and $0.11/kwh will use $2750 over the same 100,000 miles. On top of that, you have virtually no maintenance on an EV, and further, a lot of what people pay for is the driving experience, and EVs are fun to drive. For the vast majority of driving, you’ll never need to waste time finding a gas station, as you just plug it in every night when you get home.

“Federal and state government looks to be turning away from deficit spending, and so the credits may not be around for a whole lot longer”

Actually, I don’t support them anyhow, though it does make it easier for me to get my Leaf. The Leaf and the Volt would have sold out without the credits as it is, so they weren’t really necessary, and they’re not the reason EVs are popular. They’re just cheaper, better, simpler, cleaner.

Prospective buyers try out Nissan’s new electric car – Fort Worth Star Telegram | occasion auto : blog généraliste January 14, 2011

[...] on EVsStockton RecordNissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster top 2011 'gas' mileage honorsWeekly DriverOregon Business News (press release) -All Cars Electric (blog) -New Zealand Heraldall 95 news [...]

Gary Munkhoff January 14, 2011

Me thinks that if Mr. Clark had lived 100 years ago his comments on the arrival of the gas powered motor car would have been something like this:

No thanks I don’t want a motor car. Why would I pay as much for one of those as I did my house when there are no roads to drive on, there are hardly any gas stations, they get stuck every time it rains and they break down or have a flat tire every few miles?

No sir give me my good old horse anytime. I don’t need roads or gasoline, rain or mud won’t stop me, I can get a good one for 50 bucks and if I have too much to drink on Saturday night the horse will get me home safe and sound.

Atta boy Mr. Clark you’ve got the right attitude. Let’s solve today’s problems with yesterday’s technology. My grandchildren will appreciate that.

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Chris Arnesen January 17, 2011

Why waste money on gasoline?

My Nissan LEAF will cost me $400 per year in electricity. A comparably equipped gasoline car will cost about $2,150 per year in fuel (if it gets 30 MPG at $3.20 per gallon). That’s a difference of $1,750 per year!

Even before the tax credits, if the LEAF costs me only about $5,000 more than the comparably equipped gasoline car I’m still WAY ahead!

With that said, electric cars aren’t for everyone. But then again, motorcycles, Hummers, and Geo Metros aren’t for everyone either. Odds are, however, that in the next 5 years you’ll be looking at purchasing a new vehicle. Why not do some research and see if an electric car will suit your needs? You might be surprised! (I sure was!)

Bud January 20, 2011

Best statement was Chris above: “Electric cars aren’t for everyone. But then again, motorcycles, Hummers, and Geo Metros aren’t for everyone either”

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