Saturday, March 20, 2010

Plug In Power

Oregon is scheduled to have 2500 electric vehicle charging stations installed over the next year. They will span the west coast of the state along Interstate 5 and on routes spoking from Portland to the cities of Eugene, Tillamook, & Hood River.

Optimization Technologies of Beaverton, Oregon is "plugging in" to the future of transportation with its OpConnect Electric Vehicle Charging Station. Recently OpTech held a launch event for the press to announce their new product. Three members of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association (OEVA), including yours truly, were there along with our battery powered vehicles, to help launch the new product.

The Beaverton Valley Times newspaper was there to cover the unveiling event too. Their story was on the front page of the March 18th edition (Link below). William Norris-York of the OEVA, talked about the efficiency of electric powered transportation; while I discussed the national security aspects of domestically fueled transportation.

The star of the day was the charging station. It is difficult to build loyalty to an electrical plug. OpTech's challenge is going to be location, location, location, getting these charging stations into areas where the plug-in vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt (both expected to be on sale later this year) will be parked. Commercial electric vehicles will have a range that exceeds what most people will use in a typical day. These charging stations will allow opportunities to top up or stay out of gas mode for PHEVs. Their mere presents, even if you don't use them, can be reassuring.

The OpConnect does have a few tricks up its sleeve to stand out from the crowd. First, unlike some of its competitors, it does not require a loyalty card. Rather you swipe your Visa card, this can be used to pay for parking or access to the station (unless it is free) and it also establishes your account. That could be the end of the transaction, or you can log on to their website and, if you know all the right security info for your Visa, you can check out your entire vehicle charging info.

In the above picture, there are the three EVs on display as they are charging. The hoods are open only for display purposes.

You can see in the picture above that the OpConnect station has both 120V and 240V connectors. It is currently one of the few that offers level 2, 240V 32A charging. Later this year the new electric vehicle connector called the J1772 will be rolled out to all the new EV charging stations in the US.

Beaverton Valley Times

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