Drive Oregon’s March Networking Event: EV Tourism – Oregon’s Electric Byways

(March 17, 2017) Drive Oregon invited Andrew Grossmann, Destination Development Coordinator at Travel Oregon, to speak at this month’s networking event about the growing field of electric vehicle tourism. In his opening remarks, Drive Oregon’s Executive Director, Jeff Allen, noted that not only does Oregon have an abundance of unique natural features and cultural landmarks, it also has a history of encouraging people to travel in the state with minimal environmental impacts – the perfect combination for successful electric vehicle tourism.

Tourism, Andrew explained, is a growing industry in Oregon. As of 2015, over 105,000 people were directly employed by hotels, restaurants, tourism operators, visitor centers, and other attractions. Travel Oregon’s mission is to inspire travel that drives economic development and preserves Oregon’s way of life and natural places. Andrew noted that as the tourism industry has grown over the years, Travel Oregon has worked to promote low- and emission-free travel within the state. The Oregon Electric Byways are one of their innovative strategies.

The Electric Byways were established in 2013 and are the first of their kind in the nation. Inspired by the success of the Scenic Byway and Scenic Bikeway programs, the Electric Byways are itineraries that feature locations with access to charging, allowing drivers to travel outside metro areas without the concern of where to charge their vehicle. Also known as “range anxiety”, this concern is one of the greatest barriers to wide-scale electric vehicle adoption. The six byways are located in southern Oregon, the coast, Columbia River Gorge/Mt. Hood, and the Willamette Valley. Andrew explained that Oregon is the perfect location for the Electric Byways because of the state’s low cost of electricity, established charging infrastructure including the West Coast Electric Highway, and a growing number of electric vehicle drivers. 

Andrew announced that Travel Oregon recently updated the Electric Byways website, which now includes in-depth descriptions of the itineraries, nearby activities and charging station locations. Travel Oregon is also finalizing a promotional brochure, which will be available online at the end of March, and a printed state map of the Electric Byways, which includes charging stations identified by connector type. The purpose of the map, Andrew explained, is to show people that Oregon is very accessible by electric vehicle. Andrew noted that PlugShare is the source of Travel Oregon’s charging station data and will encourage users to verify station availability on the PlugShare app.

Andrew closed his presentation with the exciting news that Travel Oregon is partnering with Drive Oregon to launch a charging station rebate program in 2017, the first of it’s kind in the U.S. The purpose of the program is to support businesses within the tourism industry that want to attract electric vehicle drivers. Up to $5,000 rebates will be available for hotels and restaurants in Oregon for costs related to purchasing and installing Level 2 or fast charging stations. The program will begin accepting applications later this year.

Electric vehicle tourism encourages electric vehicle adoption because it illustrates that these vehicles can go anywhere – with a little planning. Travel Oregon’s development of the Electric Byways and unique promotional marketing materials will continue to encourage more drivers to go electric. Road trip, anyone?

To view a short video interview with Andrew, visit our Facebook page.

Andrew Grossman’s presentation can be viewed here: