Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Getting to One Million Electric Vehicles

"We can break our dependence on oil... and become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. The future is ours to win."
- President Barack Obama, State of the Union address, January 2011

Getting to a million E.V.s (ElectricVehicles) quickly is both an important goal and a daunting challenge that has less to do with the ambition than with its achievement. A community can seemingly do all the right things to get prepared by enlisting vehicle and charging providers, aligning public policy, and identifying financial incentives and yet still miss the target. Why? Because the willingness and interest of the driving and buying public can be as important as the volatility of oil prices and the pace of battery advancements . The reality is,

EV adoption depends upon the vehicle buyers.

On November 2nd and 3rd John Mayer, Hawthorne Auto Clinic intern, and I attended EV Roadmap 4: Getting to a Million, the latest in a twice yearly series produced by Portland State University and Portland General Electric to advance transportation electrification. This fall’s EV Roadmap considered the challenge of reaching one million EVs on US roads by examining what motivates consumers to adopt them. Through a combination of activities – panel discussions, expert presentations, a live focus group, and breakout discussions – we considered our own commitment to EV adoption and explored the role we each might play through 2015.

The EV adoption issues we considered:

· Is the 2015 one million EV goal doable, and is the target number for Oregon, 30,000 EVs, realistic?

· What are consumers’ perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of EVs, and how do we respond positively to their misconceptions and reservations?

· How do we understand the ways different types of drivers might be induced to consider an EV?

· What influence do fuel prices and various government incentives have on EV buying decisions?

· How are groups regionally and nationally addressing this challenge, and how can we work together to help each other?

We learned about Portland’s own Electric Avenue at Portland State University: http://pdx.edu/electricavenue/. Be sure to visit and see what’s charging.

The Oil Shockwave exercise conducted by a representative of Securing America’s Future Energy brought us back to Earth with the realization of the depth of our continuing dependence on oil. Get scared at: http://secureenergy.org/

We learned about electric vehicle initiatives taking place in other parts of the country, like New York City: http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/home/home.shtml

We examined ways to create our own EV social movement through projects like Plug In America’s: http://www.pluginamerica.org/

And we met the right people in the Portland Transportation Bureau and PGE to, hopefully, finally install a curbside charging station at Hawthorne Auto Clinic. I will follow up with further updates as our charging station project moves forward.

-Jim Houser