Electric Vehicles

Tom Banse

The slow uptake of electric cars by Northwest drivers is prompting calls to extend a tax break in Washington state for new vehicles powered by alternative fuels. A sales tax exemption is set to expire next year.

Washington and Oregon have been among the best sales markets in the country for plug-in cars. But still, the number of fully electric and other alternative fuel vehicles on the road remains a tiny fraction of total registrations.

Tom Banse

Just like consumers who postponed new car buying during the recent recession, so did government agencies put off vehicle replacements. But now procurement officers are getting busy again. In this buying cycle, every Western state is under a directive to buy alternative fuel vehicles and to reduce fossil fuel use.

The legislation or executive order always comes with a caveat: do so, except when it's not economically or logistically possible. A western Washington driver is showing what is possible when you push an electric car to its limit.

Imagine paying less than a dollar per gallon for your commute, compared to today's statewide averages of $3.84 in Oregon and Washington and $3.80 in Idaho for a gallon of gas. Eighty-four cents in Idaho and Washington -- or 96 cents in Oregon -- per gasoline gallon equivalent is how much the US Department of Energy figures it costs to recharge an electric car in each state.

The agency's assistant secretary David Danielson announced an online cost comparison calculator Tuesday for what he calls the "eGallon."

The automaker Nissan says sales of its fully-electric Leaf compact surpassed all other Nissan models at dealers in the Seattle and Portland areas this spring. The announcement Wednesday runs counter to the prevailing wisdom that adoption of plug-in cars has been sluggish.

At Nissan USA headquarters, director of electric vehicle marketing and sales Erik Gottfried says he's scrambling to ship enough Leafs to meet demand in the Pacific Northwest. The car maker juiced its plug-in sales by slashing the sticker price and offering low-cost leases. Gottfried says that was made possible by opening a domestic production line in Tennessee.

Bellamy Pailthorp Photo / KPLU News

Driving an all-electric vehicle just got a bit more mainstream.

The AAA Auto Club of Washington has launched a new emergency roadside service for electric cars. It now has a truck with a generator on board that can rescue drivers in the greater Seattle area if they’ve run out of charge.

Courtesy of Ford

Seattle's Century Link Field is again the location for the unveiling of a new all-electric car. 

The Nissan Leaf debuted here nearly a year ago. Tomorrow morning there will be a demonstration of the plug-in technology at the charging stations near the stadium – to mark the opening of order banks for owning the new Ford electric vehicle. 

SALEM, Ore. - A car wreck that involves an electric vehicle or a hybrid can pose grave risks to emergency personnel. A group of first responders in Oregon got a training session Thursday on how to handle a high wattage accident.

It's no surprise that an electric car might have more electricity pulsating through it than a regular car. So, how much power does it take?

Matt Paiss of the National Fire Protection Association says an electric car can pack quite the punch.

U.S. Army / Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – As the Pacific Northwest begins to integrate more renewable energy, grid operators sometimes have trouble predicting the variability that comes with it. Researchers have found a way to use electric vehicles to help balance wind power’s inconsistency.

Photo courtesy Children's Hospital

It’s been eight months since Nissan made its first delivery of its all-electric Leaf car to a customer in the pacific Northwest.

Now, driving an all-electric vehicle is well on its way to becoming mainstream reality. A pilot program is installing thousands of electric car charging stations in the Puget Sound region and making them more available to regular folks.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has not given up on the idea of a mileage tax paid by electric vehicle owners. The tax is meant to offset the lack of gas taxes paid by people who drive electric cars.

Tom Banse / N3

Starting this week, the first of roughly 900 electric car owners in the Northwest will each have a free charging station built into their garages. The deal comes with a catch though.

Nissanusa.com

The debating and waiting can now take a back seat.  Here comes the real world test whether Northwest drivers will embrace electric vehicles.  Carmaker Nissan has made the first customer delivery in the region of its fully-electric Nissan Leaf model.