EV conference outgrows space, attendance doubles

Record attendance at a long-running electric vehicle conference in Portland shows how the sector is maturing.

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The number of people registered on the first day of the EV Roadmap 10 conference on June 20 reached 450, up 50% on last year’s attendance. The conference is being held at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland June 20-21.

For the first time, the conference has outgrown capacity at the World Trade Center conference space, where it has been held for the past 10 years.

The center’s main auditorium holds a maximum of 250 people. So many people turned up at this morning’s plenary session that conference organizers had to broadcast the session on TVs in the center’s outdoor plaza.

Jeff Allen, executive director of Forth, the electric mobility advocacy group that hosts the conference, said next year’s meeting will be held at the Oregon Convention Center to accommodate the growth in attendees.

Increased attendance signals how the industry is maturing, said Allen on the sidelines of the conference.

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“Almost every automaker has at least one electric model,” said Allen. He added electric utilities and regulators are also more invested in the sector than ever before.

Forth, which changed its name from Drive Oregon a couple of months ago, plans to drop the “EV” from the EV Roadmap conference name, said Allen.

The move reflects how the conference’s focus is shifting away from single occupancy electric vehicles towards transportation innovations, such as car sharing, autonomous vehicles and fuel cell technology.

The odds are that these new methods of transportation will primarily use electric vehicles, said Allen. Car sharing, in particular, is suited to electric vehicles because of the large number of short trips consumers take, he said.