Jul 23, 2012

Widespread adoption of electric vehicles won’t happen without convenient charging points. But who should provide charging stations? Where should they be located? And how should they be set up?

Those are a few of the questions addressed in an OTREC report on the unique charging-station hub known as Electric Avenue. A block-long bank of chargers on the Portland State University campus, Electric Avenue provides an ideal test site for those seeking to prepare the way for electric vehicles.

Electric Avenue opened in August 2011 with eight parking spaces where vehicle owners can use a variety of chargers for free, paying only the cost of parking. Some chargers can recharge a battery in 30 minutes and others require hours per charge.

As the first installation of its kind, Electric Avenue illuminated both the promise and the difficulties electric vehicles represent. The report concluded that similar projects would be viable elsewhere, especially if planners and policy makers learn from the Electric Avenue experience, including:

  • With lead partners Portland State University, the city of Portland and utility Portland General Electric, Electric Avenue had the leadership to steer the project through the inevitable obstacles. A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities helps partners deal with unexpected costs and other challenges.
  • ...
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Feb 01, 2011

If anyone doubted Detroit could produce a reliable electric car that can be charged at home and make several trips without recharging, the proof was parked in the Oregon Convention Center: a 1917 Detroit Electric. Production of that car, which could travel up to 80 miles on a charge, began in 1907.

The Detroit Electric and conceptual descendents, such as the sporty Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf, served as backdrop to E.V. Road Map 3, a forum to discuss the benefits of electric vehicles and plan for their future. Sponsored by Portland State University and Portland General Electric, the conference came at a turning point for electric vehicles, said John MacArthur, director of OTREC’s Transportation Electrification Initiative.

“Once 2011 hit, we went from the theoretical to the applied,” MacArthur said. “Automakers are rolling out the vehicles, charging stations are popping up, and now they’re starting to be seen and tested.”

Perception remains the largest barrier to wider adoption of electric vehicles, he said. “There’s still this ‘range anxiety’ out there,” that is, people worry if the car has enough juice to get to their destination and back. “But once they drive one, they realize it’s not a big deal.”

That’s because most people don’t drive...

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