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December 02, 2010

Ambiente Motors, University Join to Develop Electric Trucks



Ambiente Motors will collaborate with Southern Oregon University Facilities Department on an electric truck pilot project.

According to Ambiente sources, it will convert one of Southern Oregon University’s (SOU) existing landscape trucks using its own electric power train design. The pilot project will take 12 to 18 months to complete. It is expected that SOU will pilot test the truck as part of a viability study for converting its entire vehicle fleet to electric.

Ambiente Motors is a local electric vehicle venture, founded by Melissa Brandao in Ashland. Ore. Brandao also founded Ashland’s Barefoot Motors. Ambiente Motors develops low-cost, light-duty truck electric components and conversion kit that are suitable for commercial vehicles, mainly American-made pick-up trucks.

Brandao, CEO of Ambiente Motors, said in a press release, “The SOU partnership is a win-win, not only are they an ideal commercial customer use-case for our vehicle platform but SOU’s commitment to sustainable transportation will help us accelerate commercial fleet innovation.”

Director of Facilities at SOU, Drew Gilliland added that up until now, no electric trucks were found that met the needs of the university.

“With Ambiente’s conversion we have the added benefit of using the vehicles we know and being able to extend the use of our existing fleet instead of having to purchase expensive new trucks that we are not familiar with. Our goal is to convert our entire small and medium duty truck fleet to alternative fuel by 2016,” Gilliland added.

Oregon Institute of Technology will also collaborate in the SOU electric truck conversion project. The truck will be installed with Remote Electric Vehicle Diagnostics, or “RED Cloud,” an electric vehicle fleet management system developed as a commercialization effort between OIT and Ambiente.  

RED Cloud allows fleet managers to track a variety of data from their electric vehicles fleet remotely via a Web interface. As EVs are electronic and not mechanical, diagnosing and servicing the vehicle is difficult. RED Cloud offers better access to information that can predict and avoid potential service issues. This capability is expected to increase adoption of electric vehicles.

According to Ambiente sources RED Cloud will be installed in SOU’s electric pickup in early 2011.  Jim Long, Computer Systems Engineering Technology professor at OIT is leading the team that is developing the RED Cloud.


Shamila Janakiraman is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Shamila’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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