Oregon is seeing a wave of investments in electric vehicles these days.

First was Zipcar buying Honda Fit EVs for its fleet, now it is Drive Oregon which announced grants recipients for EV development and research.

Drive Oregon has announced its largest round of grants yet under its year-old Matching Grant program, designed to accelerate the growth of Oregon’s electric vehicle industry.

Drive Oregon said six projects were awarded a total of $179,926, and are as follow:

  • $50,000 will support purchase of an advanced dynamometer by Linn-Benton Community College as part of its Advanced Transportation Technology Center in Lebanon, Oregon.
  • $50,000 will fund Portland-based OpConnect to work with the City of Hillsboro to develop the innovative new GoPoint transportation system, which is currently a finalist to receive $1 million through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.
  • $50,000 will support the development and tooling needed for Eugene-based Arcimoto to build an initial pre-production “pilot fleet”of its unique ultra-efficient three-wheeled electric vehicles.
  • $20,000 will support KersTech Vehicle Systems to design, build, and test KersTech’s high efficiency electric-hydraulic compound motor system in a small all-terrain vehicle suitable for use in agricultural settings.
  • Grants of $4,926 and $5,000, respectively, will support research projects by Professor Robert Bass at Portland State University and Professor Julia Zhang at Oregon State University. These special grants are designed to match awards under the “Small Starts” grant program of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Center.

“This grant will help us meet the growing demand for people who are qualified to develop and maintain electric vehicles and other advanced transportation equipment,” said John McArdle, Development Director for the Linn-Benton Community College Foundation. “In addition to the funding itself, we value the connections we are making in Oregon’s growing electric vehicle industry cluster.”

Lester Erlston, CEO of KersTech, noted that his company plans to work with LBCC to conduct dynamometer testing of its compound motor using this new equipment.

Dexter Turner, CEO of OpConnect, explained how the grant will benefit both his company and the state as a whole.  “The Bloomberg grant would be a huge win for Hillsboro and the state of Oregon.  This grant funding will help us make our EV charging stations a part of this transportation technology that has a strong export potential,” said Turner.

Mark Frohnmayer, Founder and President of Arcimoto, echoed the cluster theme:  “Oregon has a strong and growing network of companies making everything from advanced power electronics and software to metal parts, composites and next-generation battery materials,” explained Frohnmayer.  ”This grant is great news for us, but also for our many Oregon-based suppliers and partners.”

Jeff Allen, Executive Director of Drive Oregon, noted that “Drive Oregon has previously paid out approximately $200,000 in matching grants, which have already leveraged over $2.1 million in additional investment. We expect even more impact from the grants we are announcing today, and we expect to announce our next grant application deadline by Summer 2013.”