by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - PGE Business Development Director Charlie Allcock chats with Nissans EV Business Development Manager Jeannie Lam in the companys new all-electric van.PGE’s leadership on electric vehicles has led Nissan to loan the utility company one of two prototype electric cargo vans for testing.

“We have been working with our residential customers for several years now to help them understand electricity as a transportation tool, and it’s now time for business application to come into play, too,” said Charlie Allcock, PGE’s Business Development Director.

Allcock received the keys to the van, known as the Nissan e-NV200, which were handed over to PGE officials during a presentation at the EV charging station outside the company’s headquarters in the World Trade Center in downtown Portland. They were handed to him by Jeannie Lam, Nissan’s EV business development manager for the western region, who came up from San Francisco for the event.

The e-NV200 is an all-electric version of the compact Nissan VV200 gasoline-powered van that has been for sale to the general public for about a year. It is driven by an 80kW AC Synchronous electric motor powered by a 24kWh Lithium Ion battery, which is similar to the power train the all-electric Nissan Leaf. The prototype van has been in PGE’s vehicle fleet for about two weeks so far, where it will be used and evaluated to help Nissan determine its market viability.

Both PGE and Nissan have been in the forefront of the early deployment of new EVs in Oregon and the country. They partnered years ago to promote the installation of public charging stations and the introduction of Nissan’s Leaf EV. Both have worked over the years with researchers at Portland State University, the Oregon Department of Transportation and several nonprofit organizations to increase the viability of EVs as daily passenger and work vehicles.

“Our partnership with PGE has been wonderful, and we’re looking forward to feedback from them about how the van meets their needs,” said Lam.

The van has been assigned to a PGE employee who helps maintain the utility’s underground equipment vaults in downtown Portland. His supervisor, Eric Bieren, praised the van for its maneuverability and zero emissions.

“It’s replaced a larger diesel van and we like the fact that it don’t generate any pollution,” says Bieren.

Among other things, their efforts contributed to the construction of the EV Highway, the series of charging stations in Portland, the Willamette Valley and along I-5 that allows EVs drivers to conveniently recharge their vehicles between the Washington and California borders.

Such accomplishments have led several automotive manufacturers to debut their new EVs to journalists in Portland. Launches have included the Chevy Spark EV, the smart for two EV, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

The Northwest Automotive Press Association is also scheduled to co-sponsor a public exhibition of EV and other alternative fuel vehicles called Drive Revolution at OMSI on July 19. It is the second such event, with the first one being held last summer.her alternative fuel vehicles called Drive Revolution at OMSI on July 19. It is the second such event, with the first one being held last summer.

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