Electric cars in unlikely places: central Oregon ski shop


Nissan Leaf owned by Pine Mountain Sports (Photo by Pine Mountain Sports)

Nissan Leaf owned by Pine Mountain Sports (Photo by Pine Mountain Sports)

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If you find yourself on the roads of central Oregon, keep an eye out for this eye-catching Nissan Leaf.

It's owned by Pine Mountain Sports, a ski and mountain-bike shop located in Bend, Oregon, which uses it as a shop vehicle.

Christened, the "Pinemobile," it was purchased back in August, and is living up to the expectations of its owner so far.

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Operating an electric car cuts fuel and maintenance costs, although that isn't the only reason why Pine Mountain Sports chose the Leaf.

The other reasons were spelled out in a lengthy blog post by the shop.

As a business built on outdoor activities, Pine Mountain Sports felt it was important to reduce its contribution to overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Nissan Leaf at West Coast Electric Highway charging station (Photo by Pine Mountain Sports)

Nissan Leaf at West Coast Electric Highway charging station (Photo by Pine Mountain Sports)

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Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, accounting for 40 percent of the total, the shop said.

Using an electric car also keeps more money in the state, the shop reasons.

Oregon doesn't have any local sources of crude oil, or any refineries, so all fossil fuels must be brought in from elsewhere.

ALSO SEE: Why One Olympic Gold Medalist Drives A Plug-In Hybrid In Vermont (Jun 2015)

On the other hand, it does generate a significant amount of its electricity from renewable sources, with 70 percent coming from hydro-electric generation.

Charging electric cars from clean sources reduces their overall environmental impact, increasing the benefit of switching over from internal-combustion.

In addition to having clean sources of electricity, Oregon harnesses them with a substantial network of electric-car charging stations.

AeroVironment DC fast charger, part of West Coast Electric Highway - Centralia, WA

AeroVironment DC fast charger, part of West Coast Electric Highway - Centralia, WA

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That includes the West Coast Electric Highway, a network of public charging stations that extends into neighboring Washington state.

The stations are located along multiple highways, with I-5 serving as the backbone.

MORE: West Coast Electric Highway To Fill In California Fast-Charging Stations

Pine Mountain Sports also installed its own charging station, powered by solar panels mounted on the roof of the shop.

But what Pine Mountain Sports considers the best reason for buying an electric car might prove surprising.

Electric Avenue charging stations in Portland, Oregon [photo: Portland General Electric]

Electric Avenue charging stations in Portland, Oregon [photo: Portland General Electric]

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Since modern electric cars first went on sale in large numbers about six years ago, the relatively short ranges of most available models have been repeatedly cited as a major hindrance to widespread adoption.

Yet having to stop often to charge is actually a plus, Pine Mountain Sports reasons, because it allows drivers to "discover new places... that are not gas stations."

Because they are often located at businesses like restaurants, or points of interest like parks, electric-car charging stations can be a bit more pleasant to stop at than the average gas station.

"To us, driving an electric car has a similar vibe to bicycle touring... it involves a more relaxing pace," the Pine Mountain Sports blog post said.

Good point.

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