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Published on April 7th, 2009 | by Nick Chambers

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It’s On! Portland and San Francisco Battle For Electric Car Domination


The EV wars have begun.

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[UPDATE: See latest post from Mayor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Sam Adams, and CEO Richard Lowenthal.] Just a few weeks ago San Francisco’s visionary Mayor, Gavin Newsom, wrote a post for us describing his plan to make the Bay Area the electric car capital of the world by aggressively developing the charging infrastructure to support full-scale EV deployment. At the time he proclaimed:

“Electric vehicles have the possibility to transform our economy, revive our car industry, and improve our environment. To make sure electric vehicles succeed this time around we need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in battery technology and [charging] infrastructure.”

Well, San Francisco, you have a challenger.

While I was at a press event yesterday hearing more about the major collaboration between Oregon, Portland General Electric and Nissan to develop a widespread EV charging network throughout Oregon, Portland’s Mayor, Sam Adams, threw down the gauntlet:

“We’re often ranked the most sustainable city in the nation. Our goal is to become the most sustainable city in the world. Today is a very important initiative that builds on where we have been but also puts us on the road, pardon the pun, to being an even greener city.”

“Working with the Governors office, Portland General Electric, and others, we will be announcing the most aggressive in-garage and on-street wired up charging station strategy that I think any city in the United States has sought to achieve. And that even means you Gavin Newsom, who’s trying hard to make the Bay Area the EV capital of the world. Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh… That’s gonna be Portland.”

>> See also “San Francisco Mayor Takes Detroit to Task For Electric Car Failures.”

I knew I had to go all the way to the top to get some answers, so I asked Mayor Newsom’s office for a response to this brewing West Coast EV turf war. Having just gotten off the phone with Mayor Newsom himself, he defended the Bay Area’s fight for the title of “EV king” saying:

“It gets me that Portland is always edging us out to win this or that sustainability competition and I thought I’d finally gotten a leg up on them with our aggressive EV development plan. Portland is a worthy competitor and it’s a fair game. It’s an enlightened competition. I don’t know the details of Portland’s plan yet, but mark my words, once we hear the details you can be sure we’ll be on top of it.”

Mayor Newsom’s Communication Director, Nathan Ballard, also added, “We welcome the healthy competiton. The more the merrier.”

Being the self-styled gushing Oregonian that I am, Mayor Adams elicited no small amount of pride from me, but I gotta give San Fran props for their wholehearted rallying cry.

All mock warring aside, I’m just happy to see the change coming so fast and furious right now. I want an electric car that can take me 100 miles a day on the freeway so bad it hurts

Now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps other cities want to get in on the EV war too? It sure beats the hell out of unwinnable wars like the war on terror or the war on drugs. Any takers?




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About the Author

Not your traditional car guy.



  • QuantumRiff

    Trust me, you don’t want to see a “war on oil”. All the “War on Drugs”, “War on Terror”, “War on Poverty”, etc have brought us is a larger tax bill, and growth in each!

  • QuantumRiff

    Trust me, you don’t want to see a “war on oil”. All the “War on Drugs”, “War on Terror”, “War on Poverty”, etc have brought us is a larger tax bill, and growth in each!

  • onesojourner

    Hey here is a crazy idea. Why don’t we let the free market decide?

  • onesojourner

    Hey here is a crazy idea. Why don’t we let the free market decide?

  • Electro

    OH YA!! A little competition will get things heated up and an EV in every garage. I really want one to melt those daily commuter miles away with minimal impact to my limited budget of money and time. Maintaining a IC vehicle is pure nonsense – its like a make work project. Replacing batterys will be a dream compared to oil + oil filter changes, air filter replacements, fuel filter replacements, coolant changes, transmission fluid and tranny efforts, emissions controls systems, exhaust systems, Cad converters, spark plugs, ignition junk, ODB II, etc etc. Its easy to see how a properly delivered EV will absolutely destroy current vehicles and reintroduce DIY vehicle maintenance while increasing mechanic honesty. An infrastructure built to support EV charging is a reusable effort for sure. Are these cities going to be competing for Tesla’s factory – Give that company some cash!!

  • Electro

    OH YA!! A little competition will get things heated up and an EV in every garage. I really want one to melt those daily commuter miles away with minimal impact to my limited budget of money and time. Maintaining a IC vehicle is pure nonsense – its like a make work project. Replacing batterys will be a dream compared to oil + oil filter changes, air filter replacements, fuel filter replacements, coolant changes, transmission fluid and tranny efforts, emissions controls systems, exhaust systems, Cad converters, spark plugs, ignition junk, ODB II, etc etc. Its easy to see how a properly delivered EV will absolutely destroy current vehicles and reintroduce DIY vehicle maintenance while increasing mechanic honesty. An infrastructure built to support EV charging is a reusable effort for sure. Are these cities going to be competing for Tesla’s factory – Give that company some cash!!

  • Dion

    Go Portland. Get San Fran’s head out of it’s ass.

  • Dion

    Go Portland. Get San Fran’s head out of it’s ass.

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  • Drew

    Glad to see Portland working on electric cars.

    But as a Democrat I’m sorry to break it to you, Newsom is no visionary – he’s a very ordinary politician, and not a very trustworthy one at that. (I’ll give you though that he has charisma, though in a bit too much of a John Edwards way…)

  • Drew

    Glad to see Portland working on electric cars.

    But as a Democrat I’m sorry to break it to you, Newsom is no visionary – he’s a very ordinary politician, and not a very trustworthy one at that. (I’ll give you though that he has charisma, though in a bit too much of a John Edwards way…)

  • http://sportreleases.blogspot.com/ 808ethan

    This is out of the blue, but I think if they made like an electric car crash derby that would get the muggles on board. They have this image of electric cars being for smart but girly men. 12 electric cars crashing smashing and or exploding would fix that right up!

  • http://sportreleases.blogspot.com/ 808ethan

    This is out of the blue, but I think if they made like an electric car crash derby that would get the muggles on board. They have this image of electric cars being for smart but girly men. 12 electric cars crashing smashing and or exploding would fix that right up!

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  • antimatter

    I need an electric car that can go 65 mph for 150 miles. Can San Francisco and / or Portland help create this possibility?

  • antimatter

    I need an electric car that can go 65 mph for 150 miles. Can San Francisco and / or Portland help create this possibility?

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  • Uncle B

    The sharing of the world’s finite resources with a rapidly growing Asia by the Americans will force convulsive paradigm shifts in America! Astoundingly high priced oil will be the first hit, then food will start to cost! the Corporatist will sell to the highest bidder, starving Americans put aside as “Unemployables” and killed off by the American Medical cartel and their “Selection Committees” as ‘unensurables” and convicted thereby to certain untimely death! Long distance travel by Electric Bullet Trains, and battery cars for the short hops can relieve some of the pressure on society, but even more has to be done! Super-insulation for all buildings must be applied vigorously to conserve energy, dierts must be adjusted to compensate for less available meat, and travel in general must be reduced. The Asian fact of life? Our dollar sinking in purchasing power can no longer command the 80 % of world’s finite resources required for the “Status Quo” and the Chinese Yuan is proving a strong competitor for these same limited finite resources! Someone will have to give up some resources for the other, and it looks like the Americans ar in for a belt tightening!

  • Uncle B

    The sharing of the world’s finite resources with a rapidly growing Asia by the Americans will force convulsive paradigm shifts in America! Astoundingly high priced oil will be the first hit, then food will start to cost! the Corporatist will sell to the highest bidder, starving Americans put aside as “Unemployables” and killed off by the American Medical cartel and their “Selection Committees” as ‘unensurables” and convicted thereby to certain untimely death! Long distance travel by Electric Bullet Trains, and battery cars for the short hops can relieve some of the pressure on society, but even more has to be done! Super-insulation for all buildings must be applied vigorously to conserve energy, dierts must be adjusted to compensate for less available meat, and travel in general must be reduced. The Asian fact of life? Our dollar sinking in purchasing power can no longer command the 80 % of world’s finite resources required for the “Status Quo” and the Chinese Yuan is proving a strong competitor for these same limited finite resources! Someone will have to give up some resources for the other, and it looks like the Americans ar in for a belt tightening!

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