Category Archives: Experiences

Wireless Inductive Bus Charger in Howard County, Maryland

Howard County will be adding electric bus service to their Green Line route. It will use inductive charging while stopped to load passengers.

The inductive high-speed charging equipment is already in place at the bus stop on the east side of the Mall in Columbia. The 50 kW Momentum Wireless Power fast chargers are made by Momentum Dynamics of Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Induction charging pad at bus stop.

Edison Was Bullish on the EV Charging Business in 1917


Seeing Ahead for the Electric Vehicle

An Interview with Thomas A. Edison

Originally published in Electrical World – January 6, 1917

“The growth of the electric vehicle has been hindered by lack of charging facilities. Selling electric current is a mercantile business just like any other business. Not enough central stations realize this and very few search out every way that current may be marketed. As a result, undeveloped markets exist for the sale of central station energy. It’s a funny business when so few central stations realize that there is a waiting market for the sale of current for charging electric cars. The public is in the curious position of wanting to buy something for which there is no place to go.

“In my opinion the central station should go into the garage business and provide in this way the best means of furnishing a place to which the customer can go to buy what he wants, electric current, in the form of mileage.
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Touring Gettysburg in Electric Cars 1908 – 2016

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We recently joined a group of Tesla drivers who gathered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to drive through the battlefield following the self-guided Auto Tour. We were not the first electric cars to tour the famous Civil War site.

On November, 25, 1908, Oliver Fritchle stopped in Gettysburg on his 1800 mile drive from Lincoln, Nebraska to New York City in his “100 Mile Fritchle Electric” that his company manufactured at a factory in Denver, Colorado. His trip was staged to demonstrate the long distance capability and durability of his electric car and batteries.

When Fritchle pulled up to the Eagle Hotel in Gettysburg at 3:00 that rainy afternoon, a battlefield guide named Harry Gilbert offered his services. Gilbert was the son of a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg and his father still lived in town. Fritchle and Gilbert toured the Gettysburg battlefield in the car and took pictures of points of interest. Two of those photos are shown above along with the same scene today shown with a Tesla Model S.

Gettysburg did not have an electric vehicle charging station in 1908 so Fritchle charged at the power house for the electric street car system. He converted the system’s 500 volts using an improvised rheostat made from running the current through a barrel of water. Article on Water-Rheostat Construction.

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New Jersey to Recognize Employers That Install EV Charging

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“NJ Charging Challenge: Electrify Your Workplace” program launched to recognize employers who install EV charging.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) wants to recognize the employers in New Jersey that are making their workplaces “Electric Vehicle-Ready.”

By providing workplace charging for electric vehicles, these employers are becoming more sustainable and are helping to reduce emissions of air pollutants from cars, improve the environment and improve the bottom line for their employees that drive to work. All employers are invited to participate, whether private, government, educational or non-profit.

How to qualify for recognition:

  • Install a minimum of 2 charging stations (Level 1/120 Volt or Level 2/240 Volt).
  • Installations as early as January 1, 2015 will be accepted.
  • Complete an NJ Charging Challenge application form and submit with proof of installation to DriveGreen@dep.nj.gov.
  • Parking spaces must be dedicated to charging station use only.
  • Recognition will include a certificate from the Department, as well as website recognition.
  • All applicants who meet the qualifications will receive recognition, but the top performers in the Charging Challenge will be honored at the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony at the end of the year.

For more information, visit www.drivegreen.nj.gov/programs.html

SUV Towed From ICEd Charging Station

Tow truck ICEd EV Charging Station

photo used by permission

It seems to rarely happen but sometimes the rules are enforced when an ICE vehicle blocks an EV charging station. This photo was sent to us by a PlugInSites reader and was taken at One Loudoun near the Alamo Cinema in Ashburn, Virginia.

The charging station space is marked with a sign the states, “ELECTRIC CAR PARKING ONLY – TOWING ENFORCED” It also includes the telephone number to call if towed. The pavement is marked with a blue square bearing an EV charging symbol.

Many jurisdictions allow private property owners such as shopping centers to tow vehicles that trespass or do not follow the rules set by the property. This presumably fell into that category since neither Virginia nor Loudoun County have an anti-ICEing law.

The management of One Loudoun is apparently willing to enforce their parking restrictions. A woman reportedly ran out and chased after the tow truck as it carried away the SUV.

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April 15, 1916 Beardsley Electric Tour in Los Angeles

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Today is the Centennial of the Beardsley Electric Tour held April 15, 1916 in Southern California.

One hundred years ago, on a clear Saturday morning, the owners of 35 California-built Beardsley Electric cars got together for “possibly the largest gathering of one make of electrics ever assembled for a tour.” The drivers, along with over 100 guests, drove from the Beardsley Showroom in downtown Los Angeles to the Hotel Virginia in Long Beach where the party indulged in a banquet and a dip in the ocean before returning home. Each car averaged over 70 miles on the trip and it is reported that “not a single mishap occurred and every car finished the run on its own power.”

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At the time, the Beardsley company attempted to compete with the larger automobile builders in the East by promoting a new light town car touted as “the lowest priced electric built in America.” Beardsley built a factory in Los Angeles but the company’s fortunes soon fell with the rise of much cheaper gasoline-powered cars and the company closed in 1918.

Read more about this and other historic electric vehicle trips at SociabilityRun.org

Snowzilla 2016 – The Great EV Charging Station Digout

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The Columbia Association Supreme Sports Club in Howard County MD

This week’s record-breaking snow storm posed lots of challenges for those of us in the Washington, DC area. Roads were virtually impassable during the storm and then it took days to dig out all the local streets and cul-de-sacs.

There was so much snow, over 30 inches in some places, that the plow drivers had no place to push it. There are probably some EV charging stations buried under snow piles out there. If you know of any charging stations that are blocked by snow, please let the property manager know.

The Supreme Sports Club, run by the Columbia Association in Howard County Maryland, did a great job digging out the EV charging station on their property as shown in the photo above. Thanks, CA!

Happy Christmas – A 1912 Electric Vehicle Ad

Thank you for reading PlugInSites. I have enjoyed sharing my experiences, charging station news and insights into some of the more interesting places to charge an electric car around the DC, Maryland, Virginia area. I hope you have a happy holiday season and best wishes for the new year.

Please enjoy this 1912 advertisement that was published in the American Journal of Surgery.

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An Electric for her very own – what more enjoyable surprise could your wife receive on Christmas morning? Every woman longs to own an Electric. Every woman knows the comfort, convenience and heightened social prestige it gives. Why not make this year the happiest Christmas?

Your wife would love to drive about in her own Electric – quiet, fashionable, simple and safe. She can pay her social calls; do her shopping; attend the theatre and receptions. You will enjoy the luxury and convenience of it, too, in paying your professional calls.

And Christmas is the season of seasons for an Electric. The cold, biting winds and snow flurries make you feel all the cosier within an Electric. There is such exhilarating pleasure in gliding noiselessly down the boulevard, through the park, threading in and out of congested traffic – quickly, easily, without bother or effort.

Driving an Electric is simplicity itself – no trouble whatever. Any woman – even a child – can operate an Electric efficiently. The first cost of an Electric is decidedly moderate when you consider its lasting, satisfactory service. Maintenance expense and cost of power is far lower than that for other types of cars.

Before you buy any car – consider the Electric.

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PlugInSites “Happy to Share” Dash Card

I confess. I did a bad thing. I didn’t mean any harm. But I caused an inconvenience for another EV driver and I feel terrible about it.

In my defense, I was new at the game of using public charging stations back in the spring of 2012. We all were.

Need to Charge? Card

We had taken our brand new THINK City EV to be in the Olney Days Parade. On the way home, we stopped to have lunch. I plugged in at a Walgreens store which had one of the few charging stations that existed at the time. We went to eat and returned about an hour later.

As we approached, we saw something incredible. There was another EV parked next to our car at the charging station. Not just any EV, but another black THINK City. Twins! There are only about 400 THINKs in the entire United States. What are the chances?

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The owner of the other THINK was standing there. I introduced myself. His name was Tony. He had just gotten his car the previous day. He had found himself suddenly low on battery that afternoon and coaxed his new electric machine to the nearest charging station only to find it occupied by my car. He had been waiting 45 minutes for us to return. He was cool about it, but I was kind of embarrassed.

Tony had no way of knowing who the car belonged to or how to contact us. That’s the moment when I decided to use a dash card whenever I leave my vehicle at a public charging station. A dash card, sometimes called a courtesy card or EV charging protocol card, is placed on the dashboard to communicate with other EV drivers who may show up and need to charge. It may be as simple as text that reads, “OK to Unplug” or a mechanism to show what time you plan to finish charging.

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The dash card helped this Nissan LEAF driver who needed to charge.

In my opinion, the most valuable information to leave is simply a phone number that you can be reached at. A number to call or text, along with an indication that you are willing to share, is all that is needed to set up a negotiation between two drivers. There can be factors at play that require a dialogue. For example, there may not be any open parking spots adjacent to the charging station and the two cars may have to switch parking.

There are files on the Internet that you can print out to display on your plug-in car’s dashboard. It’s a matter of personal preference which style you want to use. I’ve decided to create one that has a simple design, a bold typeface and a space to put a contact number.

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Anyone is free to download the file and print it out for themselves. I’ve also linked to several other dash card files on the Dash Card page.

@Lanny@PlugInSites

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Crossing Maryland in Record Time with an Electric Vehicle

Oakland to Ocean City in 6 Hours, 41 Minutes

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November 11, 2015, my wife Vera and I took our 100% electric car across the state of Maryland as fast as we possibly could without breaking the speed limit. The goal was to see if we could do the drive in a time reasonably close to doing it in a gasoline car. Six hours is the normal benchmark.

I got the inspiration from watching “The Electric Road Trip,” a PBS documentary made by Jonathan Slade and Novia Campbell. The husband and wife team filmed their 2012 trek across the state in a Nissan LEAF. Their goal was to demonstrate the viability of an EV for everyday use. If they could drive an all-electric car from Oakland in western Maryland all the way to Ocean City, then viewers may realize that an electric car could easily serve as their daily commuter.

Across Maryland in Six Hours or Six Days?

In the film, the couple stop at a store near the beginning of their trip and ask the shopkeeper if she has ever driven from there to Ocean City. The woman said, “Yes I have, it’s normally a six-hour drive from one end of the state to the other.” Novia laughed and said, ”It’s probably going to take us six days.” Indeed, the couple took five days to reach the shore.

Three years ago, when they took their trip, Maryland was an EV charging infrastructure desert on the Eastern Shore and a wilderness west of Frederick. There were very few EV charging stations when venturing beyond the suburbs of Baltimore and DC. Often, the couple had to resort to “trickle charging” on a 120 volt outlet which slowed their pace and gave them time to explore and meet interesting people in the small towns where they stopped to charge.

Jonathan Slade and Novia Campbell holding their Emmy Award for "The Electric Road Trip."

Jonathan Slade and Novia Campbell holding the Emmy Award they won for “The Electric Road Trip.”

Vera and I have taken similar slow charging trips in our THINK City EV and it really does allow plenty of time to smell the roses. That slow pace makes for a nice vacation road trip. But what if a family wants to spend their vacation lounging at the beach, not driving to it. Has the charging infrastructure and EV technology advanced enough to drive an EV from Deep Creek Lake to the OC Boardwalk in a reasonable amount of time?

Bigger Batteries and Supercharging

There have been several advancements since the summer of 2012 to help bring forth a quicker electric journey across the state. The first is that Tesla started delivering their Model S with a range of over 250 miles on a charge. In January, 2014, Tesla opened a Supercharger station in Hagerstown, MD that can recharge the batteries on a Model S in under an hour. Another Supercharger opened in Salisbury last November. This summer, several Tesla “destination charging” stations popped up in western Maryland including at the Lake Pointe Inn in McHenry.

When the Holiday Inn Oceanfront in Ocean City switched on the power to their charging stations on November 3rd, the stage was finally set for a fast electric crossing. I figured the trip could be done with a Tesla 70D by charging up overnight at the Lake Pointe Inn, driving to Hagerstown for a quick boost and if the wind and temperature were right, go non-stop to Ocean City, bypassing the Salisbury Supercharger. I was ready and so was Vera.

Ready to Roll

The night of November 10th, Vera and I drove from our home in the DC-Baltimore area out to the Lake Pointe Inn. It rained most of the way out but the forecast was for partly sunny with a high in the upper 60’s for the following day. Importantly, a steady breeze was forecast to blow from the W and NW for the entire day – a perfect tailwind. It would also be a federal holiday, Veterans Day, and I expected lighter than normal traffic.

We awoke to a fully charged car and headed to the historic Oakland train station, 14 miles away. This is where Jonathan and Novia began their trip. On our way into town, we were astonished to see a white Nissan LEAF coming the other way. I flashed the lights and waved. Electric cars are showing up everywhere, even in the “EV wilderness” of Garrett County, MD.

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In Oakland I snapped a few photos and Vera took the driver’s seat. At exactly 8:00 AM we rolled away from the train station heading directly to the Hagerstown Supercharger 115 miles away. I had plotted the route using EV Trip Planner and I carefully monitored the projected vs actual energy usage from my seat on the passenger side. Our car has the Tesla “Autopilot” feature which uses a combination of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and data to adjust speed in response to traffic and automatically steer and change lanes on the highway.

Tesla Autopilot – Keeping Us Honest

We used the Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) practically the entire way to make sure that we stayed at or below the posted speed limit. The car’s forward facing camera is able to read and recognize the speed limit signs and by pulling and holding the cruise control stalk for a few seconds, the TACC will set its cruising speed to match the speed limit and automatically slow down when it senses a slower vehicle ahead and accelerate when movement resumes.

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We used a publicly displayed Glympse map so that people who were interested could track our progress. Glympse also displayed the current speed so others could verify that we were sticking to the speed limit. One viewer commented that we were going 70 MPH on I-68 and must be speeding. I reminded them that on October 1st, Maryland increased the posted speed limit on the Interstate in western Maryland from 65 to 70 MPH. So all was good.

The first 85 miles was on two lane highways. Once we merged onto Interstate 68, Vera engaged the Autosteer function to keep the car in the current lane. The Autopilot features are still in beta and Tesla requires drivers to remain engaged and aware when Autosteer is enabled and to keep hands on the wheel at all times.

Supercharger Pit Stop

Traffic was light on I-68 so the Autopilot kept us moving along steadily at 70 MPH except when the posted speed was lower. We reached the Hagerstown exit at 9:59 AM. We arrived to find two of our EV friends had decided to come out to greet us. They had been tracking us on the Glympse map and figured out when we would arrive to charge.

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Rick and Dave with Vera at our Hagerstown Supercharger stop.

Rick Rohn drove his LEAF from Martinsburg, WV and Dave Glotfelty, who also has a LEAF, drove from Pennsylvania bearing donuts and drinks. It was great to see them! Our visit was brief. After 42 minutes of charging, we had enough to make it to Ocean City, even if the tailwind quit. At 10:51, we were back on the highway with Autopilot engaged and Vera still holding the wheel.

Bladder Management

After leaving Hagerstown with 215 miles of rated range and the wind literally at our back, I felt confident that we would make it to Salisbury with enough charge to keep going straight to Ocean City without stopping. Since we were trying to compare our total time from Oakland to OC vs a non-stop trip in a gas vehicle, we wanted to keep stops to a minimum. That included bathroom breaks. We were mindful of fluid consumption and it worked out well for the four-hour final leg.

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Taking manual control of steering while passing through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll booth.

Traffic was relatively light as we passed south of Baltimore, onto Route 50 and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore. We maintained the legal speed even when the limit dropped to 45 or 35 MPH. We got passed a lot.

At 2:41 PM, we crossed the entrance to the Hugh T. Cropper Inlet Parking Lot in Ocean City, exactly 6 hours and 41 minutes after leaving the train station in Oakland. If we were driving a gas car and didn’t have to stop to refuel, to use the restroom or to eat, we would have theoretically arrived 52 minutes earlier. In reality, it’s unlikely that people would drive a distance of 329 miles without stopping. Just a fast food stop and restroom break could easily add up to the same amount of time as our 42 minute Supercharging stop. And of course we eat and use the restroom while the car is charging.

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Picking up some fresh Fisher’s Popcorn after arriving at the OC Boardwalk.

Despite the title of this article, I don’t really presume that there’s a “record” for crossing Maryland. However, I do hope to draw attention to the need for more CHAdeMO and SAE Combo fast charging stations, especially in the western part of the state.  Jonathan and Novia hoped that their documentary “would spark conversations about how transportation infrastructure needs to evolve in the 21st century.” I hope that our demonstration contributes to that conversation.

The former Maryland Attorney General promised a statewide fast charger network when he announced the $1,000,000 EVIP grant program. Three chargers funded by the program are under construction on the Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, there are no plans for building fast chargers west of Hagerstown in the EVIP awards. That Nissan LEAF that we spotted out in western Maryland should be able to drive to Ocean City by using a well-spaced network of fast chargers. I hope the infrastructure to support that trip won’t take another three years to develop.

@Lanny

Trip Statistics

Start: 8:00 AM Oakland, MD Train Station
Finish: 2:41 PM Ocean City, MD Hugh T. Cropper Inlet Parking Lot entrance gate
Elapsed Time: 6 Hours, 41 minutes
Total Charging Time: 42 minutes
Rated Miles Added by Charging: 118
Time Taken to Recharge – From Exit to Reentering Hwy: 52 minutes
Total Miles: 329
Total Energy Used: 80 kWh
Avg. Energy: 243 Wh/mi