Oregon’s electric vehicle cluster rethinks its image

AIMCO has found its niche in the electric vehicle supply chain. Those keeping an eye on the cluster say the supply chain holds the most opportunity for the region.

AIMCO has found its niche in the electric vehicle supply chain. Those keeping an eye on the cluster say the supply chain, along with research and development, holds the most opportunity for the region.

It was nearly three years ago that then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Sen. Ron Wyden stood alongside the CEO of an upstart electric car manufacturer in downtown Portland with visions of what could be.

Richard Canny, CEO of Norway-based Think, was in town scoping out Daimler Trucks’ Swan Island plant as a site to build his company’s tiny Think City all-electric cars.

“When looking for locations,” Canny said in April 2009, “Oregon is really looking like a good place to do some business.”

Oregon missed out on Think, perhaps thankfully. The company chose Elkhart, Ind., and then turned into a cautionary tale after filing for bankruptcy last year, bringing production to a halt.

Though Think’s struggles highlight the volatility in the evolving electric vehicle industry, Oregon economic development leaders still believe it’s a market that holds tremendous potential for the state.

Though they haven’t given up hope of one day luring another auto manufacturer to Oregon, the spotlight is instead being shone on the potential for Oregon to build a robust supply chain for EVs.

“Most of the economic development opportunity potential is in the supply chain,” said Jeff Allen, executive director Drive Oregon, the state’s electric vehicle industry association. “We are focusing a lot more of our energy into those supply chain opportunities.”


More from the 2012 SBO cleantech report:

Top 10 cleantech leaders to watch
EV Project: Slower than projected, but alive and well
Green chemistry center grows up, reaches out
Keeping wind turbines turning leads to growth
Guest blog: Cooperative innovation key to breakthroughs

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