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Ford, PGE Readies the City of Portland for EVs

Ford Motor Company and Portland General Electric are working together to help prepare the city of Portland and the Pacific Northwest for electric vehicles. Under the partnership, Ford and PGE will share information on charging needs and requirements to ensure that the electrical grid can support the demand for electric vehicles, as well as partner on consumer education outreach around electric vehicles.

The partnership also includes working with state and local governments to support charging station permitting, electric vehicle tax credits and future legislation or regulations.

Ford says vehicle incentives and an easy charging station permitting process are considered to be two key to elements to electric vehicle acceptance in Portland and across the country.

Ford is also bringing five new electrified vehicles to market over the next two years including the Transit Connect later this year and the Focus battery electric in 2011. Electrification is part of Ford’s overall product sustainability strategy that includes a range of fuel efficient and alternative fuel technologies including EcoBoost engines, six speed transmissions, power assisted steering, aerodynamic improvements, light weighting materials and the use of more sustainable and recycled materials.

PGE also is partnering with state and local government, higher education, the automobile industry, and businesses to expand the electric vehicle infrastructure in Oregon. In early August, PGE opened the nation’s first quick-charge station at its World Trade Center headquarters, which complements the network of more than 20 charging stations up and running across PGE’s operating areas.

Ford will leverage PGE’s partnership with Portland State University to further study urban mobility and the integration of energy and sustainable design.

Similarly, the city of Chicago is preparing for electric vehicle rollouts. The makers of electric cars are conducting research to determine which cities get their electric vehicles first, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Nissan, Ford and other electric vehicle makers said they look at three factors in picking cities for rollouts: the number of hybrid owners, friendly public policy and supportive utilities, according to the article.

Although Chicago is not high on the list of automakers’ initial electric vehicle launches, it did put a request for proposals to install $2 million worth of charging stations to be deployed throughout the city using federal and state funding, reports the Chicago Tribune.

In addition, ComEd told the newspaper that it may offer better rates to customers who charge at night when overall demand is lower, and is testing devices that allow electric cars and transformers to automatically adjust the rate and timing of charges in the event too many vehicles are charging at the same time.

ComEd also said it sees a point at which car owners could choose to “sell back” electricity in their car batteries when there is high demand on the grid, and believes mid-level charging stations will likely be installed where vehicles are parked for longer periods.

About 100 charging stations are expected to be deployed through a U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities grant, with installations starting as early as November, according to the Chicago Tribune. To meet grant requirements, the charging infrastructure must be operational by 2012.

Public charging stations are important because they eliminate what automakers commonly refer to as “range anxiety,” according to the article.

A recent study conducted by CEA indicates that U.S consumers worry about running out of battery power on the road (71 percent), lack of charging stations and/or not being able to recharge (66 percent) and limited mileage (59 percent). However, 40 percent of them are likely to test drive an electric vehicle.

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