Nissan & Oregon Team Up to Bring Electric Cars to the Masses

In his keynote address at the 2008 LA Auto Show today, Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan-Renault, announced a wide-ranging partnership to develop electric cars and an electric car charging network with the State of Oregon.

Citing Oregon’s environmental leadership in developing the transportation infrastructure of tomorrow, Ghosn also said that Nissan would be releasing their first electric car for the US market in Oregon in 2010. After releasing electric cars in Oregon in 2010, Ghosn then affirmed that Nissan-Renault will bring an “entire lineup” of zero emission electric cars to the worldwide market by 2012.

I was in the overflow room watching Ghosn on a big screen when he announced all this, so nobody was clapping, but this is definitely some of the biggest news to come out of the LA Auto Show this year — if not the biggest.

Portland General Electric (PGE), an Oregon power company, is also joining the Nissan/Oregon partnership by helping to develop the electric car charging infrastructure needed to bring fully electric cars to consumers.

“This partnership represents a major step toward reliable zero-emission mobility in the state of Oregon,” Ghosn said. “Together, we are creating conditions that will encourage consumers to consider an electric vehicle as an attractive choice that is also good for the environment.”

Oregon, under the leadership of Governor Ted Kulongoski, has recently announced an initiative to provide more than $1 billion dollars to upgrade Oregon’s transportation infrastructure and create new jobs. Along with these recent announcements, the state is planning on providing a $5,000 tax credit on the purchase of all electric cars.

“Today’s announcement shows that a state can create economic opportunity from its commitment to a greener future and the fight against global warming,” Gov. Kulongoski said. “Oregon welcomes Nissan and is pleased to help lead the way in the transition to new, greener vehicle technologies. By partnering with Nissan and Portland General Electric, we can work together to build a consistent and reliable refueling infrastructure so consumers can make the switch to electric vehicles.”

The Oregon Department of Transportation has also committed to promote the deployment, operation and maintenance of the electric car charging network by developing specifications for charging stations and seeking agreements with suppliers that may be used by entities such as local governments and utility companies.

I’ve been a resident of Oregon for the better part of the last decade, so it made me proud to hear Oregon’s name brought up in such a positive way. It struck me, while listening to Ghosn, how honestly enamored he seemed with Oregon’s commitment to actually deploying many of these advanced technologies.

As Ghosn said, his “partners in Oregon are not waiting for a ‘some day’ solution,” they’re working hard now to make the future we all talk about a reality — and they’ve also given me one more reason to love my state.

Photo Credit: Picture of 2009 Nissan Cube by the author

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.