I've been thinking a lot about electric vehicles and have spent most of the summer talking to people about cars.  Over drinks at the brew-pup, at dinner parties, and cold calling folks in car related industries--- I've noodled a lot of opinions and perspective out of friends and strangers.  One thing that has come up consistently in these conversations is the cost of electric vehicles, followed by all the range and charging questions.  The cost issue is a nagging one in the back of my mind.  Yes, the cars cost money.  Yes, the cars cost quite a bit of money.  But wouldn't the sticker price be eventually smoothed out over the life of the vehicle? After all, you wouldn't be paying for much gasoline with most of the new EVs coming out, and in the case of the Leaf, you would only pay for electricity.  I've wondered about this all summer, so I finally started hunting through all my resources and I found a few car cost calculators online.  There are several out there.  Each make a different set of assumptions and none are perfect, but they do look at the life cycle costs of vehicle ownership, an essential thing to consider when making a decision about any type of car.   

The best one is the Project Get Ready Calculator by the Rocky Mountain Institute.  It allows you to select your state and inputs your current energy and gas prices.  It also allows you to choose from around 50...

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OTREC participated in a research and technology funding discussion led by Mike Quear, congressional staffer. The visit consisted of two parts: a discussion with the Deans and faculty representing the major sciences at Portland State University; and a tour of the OTREC including highlighting collaborative research undertaken by the ITS Lab and electric vehicle initiatives being supported by OTREC. Mike Quear is Staff Director for the Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. He has worked for the Committee for the past 19 years. We always look forward to the thought provoking discussions that his visits provide.

PSU and OSU helped showcase the promise of electric vehicles in Oregon on Wednesday, April 8th by hosting Nissanís EV-02 model on each campus. Nissan announced that it plans to launch the fully electric vehicle in Oregon in 2010. At PSUís Urban Center, Angus Duncan (Chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission), Joe Barra (Director of Customer Energy Resources for PGE), John MacArthur (Sustainable Transportation Program Manager for OTREC), and Tracy Woodard (Director of Government Affairs for Nissan-USA) briefed an audience of students, staff and faculty on the emergence of electric vehicles of Oregon. On OSUís campus, University President Ed Ray ìkicked the tiresî and engineering students exhibited their own car design and construction projects, including the SAE Formula and Baja Teams and the Solar Vehicle team. Also, OSU faculty had an opportunity to brief Nissan representatives regarding their education and research programs that prepare talent and spin out technology for this new industry.

The video begins at 1:12.

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Summary: Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but have yet to realize their potential in the United States, although recently the number of e-bikes has been growing. Research on the economic, operational, and safety issues of e-bikes in the U.S. is limited. This research aims in part to understand if different bicycling technology, in this case electric assist bicycles or e-bikes, can reduce barriers to bicycling and encourage more bike trips and longer bike trips, and increase the diversity of people bicycling, including people with a disability or chronic injury to bicycle. Some of these barriers include trip distance, topography, time, and rider effort. E-bikes typically resemble a standard pedal bicycle with the addition of a rechargeable battery and electric motor to assist the rider with propulsion. To answer these questions, we conducted an online survey of existing e-bike users on their purchase and use decisions. Results from 553 e-bike users across North America are analyzed here. Results suggest that e-bikes are enabling users to bike more often, to more distant locations, and to carry more cargo with them. Additionally, e-bikes allow people who would otherwise not be able to bike because of physical limitations or...

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The video begins at 4:13.

Wei Feng: Impacts of Economic, Technological and Operational Factors on the Economic Competitiveness of Electric Commercial Vehicles in Fleet Replacement Decisions

Electric commercial vehicles (ECV) have the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and pollution in urban areas. In addition, ECVs have lower per-mile operating costs and potentially lower maintenance costs. However, the initial purchase cost of ECVs is significantly higher than the purchase cost of a conventional diesel vehicle. From a purely economic perspective, there is a cost tradeoff between the low operating and maintenance costs of ECVs and their high initial capital costs.  In this paper, a fleet replacement optimization framework is employed to analyze the competitiveness of ECVs. Scenarios with different fleet utilization, fuel efficiency and sensitivity analysis of ten additional factors indicate that ECVs are more cost effective when conventional diesel vehicles’ fuel efficiency is low (8.2 miles/gallon) and daily utilization is more than 54 miles. Breakeven values of some key economic and technological factors that separate the competitiveness between ECVs and conventional diesel vehicles are calculated in all scenarios. For example, in low conventional diesel vehicle fuel efficiency and low daily utilization scenario, ECVs are more competitive when their purchase prices...

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The video begins at 1:47.

Abstract: In transportation planning and engineering, market segments or groups of individuals with varying attitudes and travel behavior are often identified in order to define a set of policies and strategies targeted at each segment. Examples include residential location choice studies, electric vehicle adoption and the marketing of public transit options. Defining market segments is common in the marketing literature, typically based on observed socioeconomic characteristics, such as gender and income. However, in addition to these characteristics, travelers may also be segmented based on variations in their observed travel and activity patterns. The activity-based approach to travel demand analysis acknowledges the need to analyze the travel patterns of individuals, conceptualized as a trip chain or tour, as opposed to individual trip segments. This has implications for identifying markets segments based on travel patterns which needs to distinguish between the sequencing and timing of travel choices and activities, in addition to the actual travel choices and activities. One approach that holds promise is pattern recognition theory which has wide applications in image analysis, speech recognition and physiological signal processing. In this study, pattern recognition methods are applied to observed daily travel and activity patterns from Oregon to identify travel market...

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The video begins at 9:18.

Abstract: When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), Oregon has all the right ingredients: the Governor's support, the necessary infrastructure and investment by major manufacturers; but is that enough to ensure success? George Beard, Portland State University's conduit to Portland General Electric (PGE) and other EV partners, will provide a briefing on the status of EV deployment and adoption in Oregon. His talk will examine remaining barriers to EV adoption and the conditions in which key parties can overcome them. Can the professionals who are working on EVs, including planners and engineers, have any impact on the most important measure of success: consumer acceptance? Sit down, plug in, and find out!

Room 204 of the Distance Learning Center Wing of the Urban Center on the Portland State University campus

Abstract: A variety of types of electric bicycles are now available to consumers in America and around the world. While there has been strong uptake of these vehicles in China, there remains uncertainty in other markets about their ultimate potential as a transportation mode. The technology is evolving in ways that are likely to better meet traveller's needs and the growth of this mode presents both opportunities and challenges. Since they have implications for transportation policy, planning and operations it is appropriate for the transportation profession to consider these vehicles carefully. This seminar will review developments and emerging issues with this form of transportation technology.

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Room 315 in the Engineering Building (the ITS Lab)

Abstract: This seminar will describe the results of a recent study for the Australian National Road Authority (Austroads) which reviewed emerging types of private vehicles, including everything from Segways and mobility scooters to three wheel cars and micro/mini cars, and their implications for road system management.The emergence of some of those vehicle types presents real challenges from the perspective of safely managing their integration into the road system even though they present some real opportunities from the perspective of improving the sustainability of the transport system. Although the analysis is largely from an Australian perspective, some of the general insights which came from the study are transferable and one of the key recommendations (regarding moving towards more performance based than prescriptive based standards for vehicles) has potential international application.

Learn more about our other research on e-bikes here.


Over the last couple years, electric bicycles (e-bikes) have been gaining momentum. E-bikes may play an important role in addressing cities’ transportation and public health problems by getting more people out of cars and onto bicycles. But as the number of users increase, so too will potential conflicts (actual or perceived) with other road users, causing policy questions to arise.

The current state of e-bikes regulation varies dramatically across state and local jurisdictions, causing confusion. The confusion stems from the wide variety of devices and technologies on the market, perceived overlap of legal entities’ jurisdiction over the device, outdated or absent laws and regulations, and inconsistency of terms used to describe e-bikes. This confusion creates uncertainty for manufacturers and dealers and makes riders wary of embracing e-bikes.

One of the biggest concerns people have about e-bikes and their use, especially on shared-use paths, is speed....

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