Sustainable Business Oregon: Portland's EV leadership stars in global report
Author: Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Posted: May 15, 2012

Read the full article from Sustainable Business Oregon

Portland is featured among 16 cities around the world in an information-sharing report that highlights the early leaders in the adoption and promotion of electric vehicles.

The report, EV City Casebook, was published by the Rocky Mountain Institute and is the result of research by the institute, the U.S. Department of Energy, The International Energy Agency and University of California, Davis.

"We wanted to create something that would start a conversation among cities," said Ben Holland, program manager for the EV program Project Get Ready, which is run by the Rocky Mountain institute. "With the economic and political climate, it's tough to push this kind of change at the federal level, but you really see work going on at the city level."

"Cities," Holland said, "can be a test bed."

Project Get Ready was launched in Portland in 2008, Holland said, and Portland continues to lead the country in electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure.

The Casebook report highlights Portland's Electric Avenue, a hub of electric vehicle chargers located on Portland State University's campus, Oregon's electrified highway initiative and the plug-in Toyota Prius research project run by Portland State University, which wrapped up with the return of the test cars last month.

The report compares city features including population, registered vehicles, the average commute length, the mix of transportation modes and the mix of energy sources. It also details policies and incentive programs that support the adoption of electric vehicles.

In addition to Portland, the cities covered by the report include:

  • Amsterdam, which expects to have 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
  • Barcelona, Spain, which formed a public-private partnership called LIVE — Logistics for the Implementation of Electric Vehicles.
  • Berlin, where electric vehicle car buyers get a 10-year car tax exemption.
  • Brabandstad, Netherlands, a five-city district that was designated as the smartest region in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum in 2011 and has focused on electric vehicle adoption as a way to reduce pollution.
  • Goto Islands, Nagasaki, Japan, the site of a pilot project for widespread electric vehicle use.
  • Hamburg, Germany, which has 60 EVs in municipal fleets and plans for up to 500 by the end of 2015.
  • Helsinki, which has created a living laboratory to test electric vehicle use.
  • Kanagawa, Japan, a city of 9 million that has a goal of getting 3,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2013.
  • Los Angeles, where the highest ozone level in the U.S. is pushing electric vehicle promotion efforts and incentives.
  • New York, where the city has vowed to reduce its fleet emissions by 30 percent in five years, prompting addition of electric vehicles.
  • Northeast England, home of the Sunderland Nissan Leaf plant.
  • The Research Triangle metro area of North Carolina, which has developed a community-wide electric vehicle readiness plan and is expected to be a regional hot spot for EV purchases.
  • Rotterdam, Netherlands, a city of 1.2 million that has a goal of 200,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025.
  • Shanghai, China's official electric vehicle pilot city.
  • Stockholm, where plugging in cars is nothing novel — most of the population has been electric using engine block heaters for decades.

Holland notes that European efforts to add electric vehicles to their public fleets is an area that the U.S. should emulate and something his program will focus on in the coming months.

"When you talk to people about buying cars, when it comes down to it, that's sort of an emotional experience and there's only so much we can do to convince them," Holland said. "But when you can break down the financial argument for fleet managers, that tends to be more successful."

Electric vehicles are attractive for fleets because they have limited maintenance in addition to reduced emissions.

Holland is working with a professor at UC Davis to launch a portal site to share electric vehicle information and best practices between cities.