Urban mobility in Portland


Interview with George K Beard, Alliance Manager, Office of Research & Strategic Partnerships, Portland State University, U.S.A.

What are the main/current challenges in the EV industry?     
My academic and research interests focus on sustainable urban mobility in general and on electric vehicles in particular. A concomitant interest is on the time and effort required for a new technology to achieve widespread social and civic adoption. Regardless of the reliability of this new technology, the acceptance by drivers and their families is a much longer slog.

What’s your vision for the industry looking forward?
The transition from combustion vehicles to electric vehicles will likely be measured in decades and not years. My vision is that a growing number of citizens in my city of Portland, Oregon will materially diminish their private ownership and use of personal cars in favor of transit, bicycling, walking, and car sharing and ride sharing.

My deeper aspiration longs for a dramatic reduction in the use of petrol as a transportation fuel in order to diminish oils adverse economic, environmental, and energy security impacts.

What is on the University’s urban mobility agenda this year?
Our urban mobility agenda will consider and test several new business models using EVs. We will be rolling out and evaluating e-bikes, and convening a conference titled “Built for Speed: A Conversation About EVs, Charging, and the Commerce to Support Both.”

What are the projects you are most proud of so far?

Creating Portland’s Electric Avenue, which has allowed for some important, early learning as well as providing our city with a visible way to showcase electric vehicles to its citizens as we also supported a charging "oasis" for the early owners of the newest generation of electric cars.

What have been the challenges?
Access to resources, occasional complacency, and the relatively slow progress of EVs in winning the hearts and confidence of consumers.

What makes your company competitive in the market?
My university operates under the motto and mantra "Let Knowledge Serve the City". Our mission is to support the Portland region by creating a place overtime that strives to be sustainable, balanced, livable, and just. And the university’s instinct to serve as a regional convener for various communities is gratifying and worthwhile.

What will be your message at the upcoming event?
I hope to highlight two messages. First, that this is an important, even urgent moment in the world’s history. Thoughtful, adventuresome, and courageous places like Portland and Melbourne and Auckland can create a better future for their citizens by "risking success" rather than trying to defend old policies and spent models. Second, that Louis Pasteur was right when he observed: "Fortune favors a prepared mind" – I believe fortune favors a prepared city.