Few Clark County companies have ambitions as large as those of Pangea Motors, an electric vehicle maker with just 11 U.S. employees that aims to transform public transportation in the world’s most chaotic cities.
Despite the company’s small size, Pangea’s grand vision has attracted the attention of political leaders in developed countries on several continents. It operates 15 of its 21-passenger buses in the Philippines capital of Manila, where public transportation is dominated by pollution-heavy vehicles called Jeepneys, and an assembly plant in Manila is expected to produce hundreds more. Pangea has signed an agreement to build an assembly plant in Ethiopia, where officials ambitiously hope that the company will eventually build 10,000 of its vehicles. In addition to other promising prospects around the globe, Pangea aims to generate half its sales in the United States. Its vehicles that would be used in such places as military bases, airports, college campuses and planned communities.
Pangea so far has won more than a few believers in high places. It scored a public relations coup last April when President Barack Obama climbed aboard one of the company’s Comet mini-buses during his visit to the Philippines. Pangea made sure that a photo of Obama on the Comet was on prominent display at its west Vancouver headquarters on Monday when CEO Ken Montler played host to government officials including U.S. Commerce Department official Chandra Brown, who was in town to present an “Export Achievement Award” to Pangea.
Brown, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing at the U.S. Department of Commerce and the former CEO of the Oregon Iron Works subsidiary United Streetcar LLC, said her visit to Pangea was one of the highlights of her West Coast swing. “As an ex-electric streetcar builder, I’m absolutely thrilled by your success,” Brown told Montler.
In one sign of the company’s attention-getting success, Brown was joined Tuesday by staff members from the offices of Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Rep. Jaime Herrera-Buetler and Gov. Jay Inslee. The visitors were treated to a ride to Fort Vancouver on a Comet that was still being assembled as the visitors arrived. The bus and its passengers took a quick tour to the Fort Vancouver National Site.