Drive Oregon is a coalition of companies and interest groups engaged in the electric vehicle industry and transportation electrification. Drive Oregon’s mission is to catalyze the growth of the electric vehicle industry to ensure Oregon builds and maintains a competitive advantage and maximizes the economic development potential of this emerging industry.

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Industry Overview

Oregon’s electric vehicle industry comprises a broad array of companies throughout the supply chain and across the state. Key players in the industry include designers and manufacturers of vehicles and their components, such as batteries, controllers, electronic components, and motors; distributors and installers of charging station equipment; utility companies, electricians, Smart Grid developers; and service providers in the legal, financial, and consulting sectors. The cluster supports a wide range of jobs and connects with other leading economic industries while accelerating the development of a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system. Read more on the Drive Oregon website.

An Economic Impact Study, completed by Portland State University, found that Oregon’s electric vehicle industry contributes more than $266 million annually to the state, creating more than 1,500 jobs and generating approximately $12 million in state and local tax revenues.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Drive Oregon was launched in 2011 to support the development of Oregon’s electric vehicle cluster and received increased funding from the Oregon Innovation Council in the 2013-15 biennium.  Drive Oregon plays a critical role within Oregon’s electric vehicle industry by offering grant programs, monthly industry events, and one-on-one assistance.
  • Electric Avenue, a charging station demonstration project hosted at Portland State University, received international acclaim as an example of how electric vehicle equipment can be tested and the public can be introduced to this exciting new technology.
  • RYNO Motors, a start-up company developing a one-wheeled electric motorcycle will be building its first pre-production model after receiving a grant from Drive Oregon.
  • During 2013, Drive Oregon and the Oregon Department of Transportation launched the Energize Oregon Coalition to advance electric vehicle deployment in Oregon.
  • Drive Oregon has awarded roughly $400,000 in grants, leveraging more than $4 million in outside investment into this industry.

Cluster Strengths

  • Established base of speciality vehicle manufacturing: Oregon is already recognized as a leader in the production of speciality electric vehicles, including electric fork lifts, airplane tugs, streetcars, and battery components. This established industry base creates a strong foundation for expansion of this “cutting-edge” cluster.
  • Industry crossover opportunities: The state’s high tech manufacturing, electronic component, and software cores provide many exciting opportunities for electric vehicle component production.
  • Opportunities for networking: A diverse mix of electric vehicle start-up companies and established businesses supports a dynamic business network.
  • Leader in EV deployment: Oregon is recognized nationally and internationally as being at the forefront of the deployment of mass-manufactured electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. These successes enhance the state’s ability to attract businesses and financial investment.
  • Political leadership and government support: The state’s policymakers support electric vehicles, acknowledging the economic and environmental benefits of an industry that is building a sustainable transportation system.
  • Emerging Industry: The current-day electric vehicle industry is a very nascent sector of the economy and is rapidly evolving. If harnessed correctly, this high energy promises high returns.

Cluster Challenges

  • Financing: Less local capital is available to entrepreneurs on a per-capita basis than in neighboring states. The result is that Oregon’s electric vehicle companies are severely constrained in obtaining the necessary funding to grow their businesses and create local jobs.
  • Capitalizing on EV deployment success: It is crucial that Oregon carry over the success and momentum in the station’s electric vehicle deployment initiatives to job creation and business expansion in the local electric vehicle industry. Thus far, it has been challenging to create these connections.
  • Lack of widespread consumer awareness: The general public is just beginning to learn about the benefits of the mass-manufactured electric vehicle. Calling attention to the innovative and leading-edge electric vehicles and components manufactured in Oregon is an important part of any public education campaign.

Organizations Involved

Drive Oregon leads this dynamic cluster, representing over 70 companies and organizations involved in the electric vehicle industry. The mission of this creative nonprofit public-private partnership is to promote, support, and grow the state’s electric vehicle industry. Drive Oregon connects companies to financial resources and marketing opportunities while also advocating for thoughtful policies that will strengthen the industry.

Other key organizations include the region’s electric utilities, including PGE; academic institutions, including Portland State University and Oregon State University; economic development organizations, such as Business Oregon and the Portland Development Commission, and the state’s Departments of Energy and Transportation (ODOE, ODOT).

Notable companies include: Lektro, United Streetcar, Entek International, Brammo, and many others.
A full list of Drive Oregon members is available online.

Top Cluster Priorities

  • Expand export opportunities: Connect Oregon businesses within the electric vehicle supply chain to national and international electric vehicle manufacturers to increase economic activity.
  • Move from prototype to production: For many start-up companies, one of the largest hurdles is acquiring the first sale. Ensure electric vehicle companies have the connections and capital to make this step.
  • Increase access to financing for electric vehicle purchases, particularly in fleet applications.
  • Grow public-private partnerships: Collaborations among academic institutions, state agencies, and electric vehicle businesses produce useful insights into electric vehicle technology while demonstrating the public benefits. Forming more of these partnerships is important for continued industry growth.

Cluster Contact

Jeff Allen
Executive Director
Drive Oregon
1600 SW 4th Avenue
Portland, OR 97201
541-490-9021 (mobile)

Drive Oregon provides free email updates about industry events and opportunities. To sign up, click here.