The non-profit electric vehicle advocacy group Forth hosted a street party Saturday to launch its new education and test-drive center in downtown Portland.
"We're here to celebrate the official grand opening of the Go Forth Electric Showcase and celebrate electric vehicles on this beautiful summer day," said Jeff Allen, executive director of Forth, formerly known as Drive Oregon.
The new Go Forth Electric Showcase is located on the corner of SW 1st and Salmon streets, across the street from the World Trade Center Plaza. The purpose of the showroom is to educate the public about how electric vehicles work and the range of vehicles available for purchase or lease.
"It's really designed to be a cross between the best pieces of a car dealership and OMSI," Allen says. "It's a fun place to learn about electric vehicles of all kinds, including cars, bikes, and electric scooters."
Although test drives and information on different vehicles is available, the showcase will not sell or lease any vehicles to consumers. The staff will provide referrals to EV dealers for interested buyers.
"We'll have all your clean mobility options in a brand-neutral setting," Allen says. "There's no sales pressure because we can't sell them to you. We're not a dealer. We're just here to help people understand what their options are. We don't get anything from dealers if you buy an EV."
The showcase is opening in a period of growth for electric vehicles and changes in statewide policy. Oregon state representative Phil Barnhart (D-Lane/Linn) was on hand at the event.
"I got the two bills passed this year that will allow tenants to install electric vehicle chargers at their residence or at their office," Barnhart says. "The tenant will still have to pay for it, but the landlord has to let them do it."
Even more important, the transportation funding package passed in the first week of July includes a $2,500 rebate for the purchase or lease of an all-electric vehicle and a $1,500 rebate for the purchase of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
The state rebates are doubled for low or moderate income drivers who scrap a car that is at least 20 years old and replaces it with a new or used electric vehicle.The rebates are in addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit for the purchase of all-electric vehicles.
Forth has received support from a variety of public and private institutions to create the Showcase, including in-kind support and matching funds.
"Our core initial funding was a U.S. Department of Energy grant that we received last year, and we receive matching support from a cast of thousands," Allen explains. "Portland General Electric has given us this space at below-market rate. Now that we have this open, it will allow us to do a lot more education, outreach, and consumer engagement events."
The Go Forth Electric Showcase will be open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The street address is 901 S.W. 1st Avenue in Portland.