Oregon and the Electric car comeback

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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.