Oregon works toward electric cars

Oregon further strengthened its partnership with Mitsubishi Motors North America this week, by announcing that it will be working with the company to promote the use of electric vehicles through the development of a vehicle charging network.

The state signed a memorandum of understanding with the company in April of last year. The memo was the first such agreement Mitsubishi has made in the US. Under the agreement, Mitsubishi will lead efforts to promote electric vehicle use in the state as well as development of the vehicle charging network.  Plans for the network include testing along the I-5 corridor.  The agreement also allows the state to purchase Mitsubishi’s electric car, the i-MiEV for its state vehicle fleets at a negotiated cost.

Currently, the i-MiEV is only available for purchase in Japan.  The car was launched there last year, but the company hopes to have the vehicle ready for purchase in the US by 2011 in several target markets, including Oregon.

The vehicle charging network has also attracted the attention of other carmakers including Nissan, Toyota and BYD all of which have or are examining electric cars. The state aims to be a leader in fostering the electric car market as part of its sustainability and energy efficiency plans.

Oregon was also named an official test market for electric cars by the Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec) which has received nearly $100 million in federal funds to study the use of electric cars across the country. Initial plans call for the creation of 1,000 public charging stations throughout the state with deployment scheduled to begin later this year.

“Oregon’s goal is to transform the way we fuel our transportation system,” Governor Kulongoski said. “With the continued assistance from our private sector partners, including forward-thinking automakers like Mitsubishi Motors, we can create a reliable charging infrastructure and bring zero-emission vehicles to market for Oregon consumers.

Oregon’s test market status is part of the largest national deployment of electric cars and charging infrastructure to date. The EV Project, which is responsible for the deployments will be running a pilot program designed to provide a framework for creating a national electric car infrastructure.

Other states slated to be in the first phase of the electric car charging network include Arizona, Tennessee, California, and Washington. The project will also deploy 4,700 zero-emission Nissan LEAF electric vehicles, to examine electric car usage in the first five states and provide data for future deployment of 5,000,000 electric cars.

More information including deployment and charging network maps can be found at the EV Project.