The Columbia Gorge city of Hood River, Oregon, is getting ready to test drive a first-of-its-kind electric car-sharing project aimed at helping rural communities and low-income residents.
The Clean Rural Shared Electric Mobility Project — also known as CRuSE — will place five plug-in electric vehicle charging stations around Hood River, targeting areas like the city center, neighborhoods with lower-income residents and tourist destinations.
American Honda is loaning five Clarity electric vehicles to the project and users will be able to access the cars by using a mobile app that will also be available in Spanish.
“Our goal really is to, even more so, expose the community to electric vehicles where they may have not otherwise had that experience of riding or driving in an electric vehicle,” Kelly Yearick, project manager for nonprofit Forth, said.
This month, Forth was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its Advanced Vehicle Technologies Research to move forward with the Clean Rural Shared Electric Mobility Project in Hood River.
Mid-Columbia Economic Development District energy Coordinator Marla Harvey said, “the Forth car-share project pilot is significant in so far as it helps the community meet Hood River County Energy Plan Goals.”
The plan was adopted in 2018 by Hood River County, the City of Hood River, the Port of Hood River and the Port of Cascade Locks.
“It is a demonstration project and at the end of three years we’ll be creating a report and we’ll be disseminating the results and our findings to other communities across the country in coordination with the clean cities coalition,” Yearick said.
According to Forth, Hood River presents an ideal opportunity to test, assess and hone how best to offer an electric car-sharing service by being able to collect data from three different demographics — including low-income residents, city and government employees, and tourists.
If successful, the project could bring electric vehicle car-sharing services to more rural communities nationwide and improve transportation access and energy-efficiency benefits at lower costs to users.
The project is anticipated to launch next spring.