Category Archives: Experiences

Charging Across Maryland – Oakland to Ocean City

Drive completed in 6 hours, 41 minutes on Nov. 11, 2015
Details: Crossing Maryland in Record Time with an Electric Vehicle

In July 2012, Jonathan Slade and Novia Campbell drove their Nissan Leaf from the town of Oakland in western Maryland to Ocean City to become the first people to drive a fully electric vehicle across Maryland. They used what little existing EV charging infrastructure existed at the time supplemented by “trickle charging” on 120v outlets at Bed and Breakfasts and towns along the way. The leisurely trip took them nearly a week.

When I watched their Emmy-winning PBS documentary, The Electric Road Trip Across Maryland, I noted that one of the people interviewed at the start said that it normally takes about six hours to drive from Oakland to Ocean City.

It’s been three years since Jonathan and Novia’s adventure and the electric vehicle charging infrastructure is still concentrated in the center of the state. There are still not many charging options in Maryland west of Hagerstown. And the Eastern Shore is still largely an EV charging desert.

Earlier this year, several properties in western Maryland took advantage of the Tesla Destination Charging program and installed Level 2 charging stations for their guests. One of these is Lake Pointe Inn in far western Maryland close to Oakland. Last week, the Holiday Inn Oceanfront switched on the first real charging stations at the Maryland beaches. Now it’s time to take another electric road trip across Maryland. This time, closer to six hours than six days.

At 8:00 AM tomorrow, @verastamps and I plan to leave from in front of the train station in Oakland after charging overnight at the Lake Pointe Inn. If all goes to plan, we may only stop once to charge in Hagerstown. Around 3:30 tomorrow afternoon, we should roll into Ocean City to complete our #Oakland2OC electric road trip. We’ll pick up some Fishers Popcorn on the boardwalk before heading up to the Touch of Italy restaurant at the Holiday Inn for a late lunch and plug in to the brand new charging stations there.

We will be using the Tesla Autopilot extensively on the 325 mile trip tomorrow. Autopilot takes the EV experience from one pedal driving to no pedal driving.

Visit Wednesday starting around 8:00 AM for a live tracking map of our progress. [Drive completed in 6 hours, 41 minutes. Details.]


Tesla Autopilot “Cannonball Run” Record Attempt


photo: Carl Reese, @EVrecordattempt

Alex Roy, Carl Reese and Deena Mastracci, are apparently attempting to set a record for fastest Autopilot equipped Tesla to drive coast to coast. Alex Roy held the cross country “Cannonball Run” NY to LA driving record for a number of years with a BMW M5 that covered the distance at an average speed over 90 mph with top speeds reaching 160 MPH. Roy’s record was broken in October, 2013 by Ed Bolin who drove the distance in 28 hours, 50 minutes and 26 seconds.

Carl Reese, his fiancé Deena Mastracci, and Rodney Hawk drove Reese’s Model S P85D 3,011 miles from LA to New York in 58 hours and 55 minutes in April, 2015. They are listed in the Guinness World Records as having the least non-driving time to cross the United States in an electric vehicle at 12 hours, 48 minutes and 19 seconds. This beat the record set by a pair of Model S sent by Tesla Motors in early 2014 when the Supercharger network was established to the point that would enable cars to drive coast to coast exclusively using Supercharger stations.

I got a clue that something was up this morning when @AlexRoy144 tweeted, “What Is The Level 2 Autonomous Driving Record? Enquiring Minds Want to Know” #Tesla #Autopilot

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed classification system, a Level 2 automated vehicle system has at least two controls that can be automated in unison, such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping.

Alex Roy put a video on Instagram from Richfield Utah with a red Model S with the alarm going off in the background asking, “Has Elon Musk bricked our Tesla Model S in the middle of our level 2 autonomous driving cross country road trip?

A photo posted by Alex Roy (@alexroy144) on

Another Instagram photo shows 90 MPH on a dim speedometer display with this note: I’m sorry, officer. I couldn’t read how fast the car was driving itself. #NotAllExcuses

This team is likely to be the first to cross the United States since Version 7.0 with Autopilot was released to the public. I’m excited to see Alex Roy in the car with the two experienced Tesla drivers. Roy recently shared his thoughts on the consequences for driving enthusiasts in an autonomous car future in an article, “How Science Fiction Failed Us: The Real Future Of Autonomous Cars.” Worth a read.


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Tesla Sales Location at Westfield Annapolis Mall


Tesla display in Annapolis Mall near J Crew

As a result of the Maryland legislature voting to pass and the governor signing HB-235, there can be up to four locations in the state where Tesla can engage in sales activity. One of those locations is the Montgomery Mall in Bethesda which opened a little over two years ago. A Tesla Sales and Service Center is coming to Owings Mills according to the Tesla Motors website.

Tesla has also announced that they will have an Experience Center at the Westfield Annapolis Mall beginning on Monday, October 19th. This location will only be open through December and will offer test drives and the ability to configure and place an order for a car.


The Tesla Experience Center is set up like a kiosk in the main hall of the mall across from the J Crew store in the vicinity of JCPenney.


Tesla Model S cars charging in the Red Garage

On October 13th, there were four Teslas parked on the ground level in the Red Garage with three of them plugged into the Level One outlets that are designated by the Mall for EV charging. These are presumably test drive cars. At the present time, there are no HPWCs or NEMA 14-50 outlets in the garage.

Howard County Police to Patrol on Electric Motorcycles


Two electric motorcycles added to HCPD fleet. photo: Howard County

Electric Motorcycles to Debut at National Night Out Event

Howard County, Maryland has just added two electric motorcycles to their fleet of Police vehicles. The two Zero Motorcycles made especially for police patrols will make their debut tonight, August 4, 2015 at the National Night Out kick-off event at Vantage Point Park in Columbia, MD at 6:00 PM.

Will be Used to Patrol Pathways

The motorcycles will be used in the new Pathway Patrol Section, which will have seven officers on mountain bikes or electric motorcycles, providing a highly visible police presence on pathways and residential areas. The bikes will allow officers to have maneuverability in areas not easily reached by police cruisers. The motorcycles will be charged at the district station. Howard County Government also provides public charging on County property including the Dorsey and Howard buildings.

The National Night Out will have 25 neighborhood block parties throughout Howard County. The kick-off event at Vantage Point Park is being hosted by the Town Center Community Association, and will include the electric motorcycles and mounted patrol, the HCPD command post, McGruff the Crime Dog, live music, ice cream and other activities.


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Baltimore City $0.15 per kWh Fees Begin June 15

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Office of Sustainable Energy posted letters at the EV charging stations in some of the parking garages owned by Baltimore City, informing  users that the fees announced for Level 2 charging on weekdays will begin on June 15, 2015.

Currently, there is more demand at the garage in which you typically park than chargers available. On many weekdays, both the level 1 and 2 EVSE are occupied by the same vehicles for the entire day. These vehicles remain parked long after the battery is charged. To increase access to charging stations for EV drivers needing to charge, we will be implementing a fee structure for charging in the most popular EV spaces in yours and other Baltimore City owned garages.

For now, we will only charge drivers for level 2 electricity use. Level 1 charging will remain free at all times. If you need a charge, and will likely be parked all day, we hope you’ll use the Level 1 outlet when available. Beginning on June 15, 2015, Level 2 charging in this garage will cost $0.15 per kWh between the hours of 7:00AM and 7:00PM on weekdays. All funds collected will be used to pay for equipment repairs or annual subscription fees of municipal EV chargers. Having financially sustainable chargers would also make installing more EV chargers more successful in the future.

The affected garages are:
Arena Garage – 99 S. Howard Street
Baltimore Street Garage – 15 Guilford Avenue
Caroline Street Garage – 805 S. Caroline Street
Lexington Street Garage – 510 E. Lexington Street
Penn Station Garage – 1151 N. Charles Street
Redwood Street Garage – 11 S. Eutaw Street
Water Street Garage – 414 Water Street

The Baltimore City Office of Sustainable Energy is also asking the drivers who use the EV charging stations in those garages for input, via a survey, to help in determining a pricing structure. The three options on question 9 in the survey all specify $0.15 per kWh used but with varying levels of additional fees for occupying the station after charging is complete. The fees given in the choices range from $1.50 per hour to $20 plus an additional $6 per hour after 4 hours if the vehicle is not removed.

Related posts on PlugInSites:
Baltimore City Adding More EV Charging Stations
Baltimore City to Implement a Fee for L2 Charging
Busted in Baltimore – Ticket for Blocking a Charging Station
Towing in Baltimore City Requires Legislation


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Spark EV with SAE Combo Fast Charging in Maryland

The Chevrolet Spark EV with SAE Combo DC Fast Charging capability is being sold and leased in Maryland as of May, 2015. Mark Czajka, Director of MD Volt, Inc. is one of the first Marylanders to get one. In this short video tour of his car, Mark shows us how to tell an electric Spark from the gasoline version.



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Baltimore City to Implement a Fee for L2 Charging


EV Electricity Fee Implementation Letter

The City of Baltimore Department of Public Works has posted letters on charging stations in some city-owned garages to inform EV drivers that soon, using the Level 2 charging port will cost $.15 per kWh between the hours of 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM on weekdays.

I spoke with Jason Mathias and Ashley Chouinard of the Baltimore City Office of Sustainable Energy and they explained that this is trying to use a fee system to manage charger congestion at some of the more popular garages. The intention is to make it more attractive to use the Level 1 port for cars that will be parked all day so that the L2 port is available for EV drivers that may enter the garage later.

The affected charging stations are at:
Arena Garage – 99 S. Howard Street
Baltimore Street Garage – 15 Guilford Avenue
Caroline Street Garage – 805 S. Caroline Street
Lexington Street Garage – 510 E. Lexington Street
Penn Station Garage – 1151 N. Charles Street
Redwood Street Garage 11 S. Eutaw Street
Water Street Garage – 414 Water Street


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Plug-In Vehicles at the Baltimore Auto Show 2015

Baltimore Auto Show signI took a trip to the Baltimore Auto Show on opening night on New Years Day, 2015. I wanted to see what plug-in vehicles the manufacturers were showing on the floor. I didn’t have high expectations for this show which is smaller than the one in Washington, DC.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of electrics and the interest they were generating from the crowd. My electric tour started off when I spotted a white Chevy Volt hiding along the wall in the GM section near where we entered. Perhaps it was not featured prominently because the new 2016 redesign will be unveiled in a few weeks in Detroit.

Next I spotted a black THINK City which is the car I drive, sitting proudly among the Ferraris in the Exotic Vehicles section of Eurostar Auto Gallery who still have a few more THINKs available.
kia soul ev
The Kia Soul EV was featured along with a mock charging station for people to interact with. This was the first time I’ve seen the Soul EV and I was impressed with the interior room and the black and red paint scheme which is unique to the electric version along with the special aero wheels. It looks quite nice in person. Seeing this vehicle was the highlight of the show for me.
Ford Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi cars were on display in Ford’s eco-friendly fuel-efficient vehicle section. Ford also had a large display featuring three different charging stations in the area of the C-Max Energi. It included a Ford branded 120v portable charging cable, an AeroVironment Level 2 home charging station and a commercial GE Wattstation.

VW was featuring their new e-Golf which was getting lots of attention. It was touted with the slogan, All Golf. No Gas. The display featured a Bosch Level 2 EVSE which was plugged into the car.
BMW had an i3 in the center of their area. The car was surrounded with people waiting to sit inside it. I was hoping BMW would have an i8 on display but unfortunately they didn’t.

Mercedes had a black electric B-Class sitting unassumingly on the edge of their area without much fanfare. You would have to look close to even know it was electric.

To my surprise, Cadillac had an ELR featured on their floor with a beautiful matching black mock charging station. In general, it was good to see most of the manufacturers had their electric cars plugged in which helps create recognition among the public of electric vehicles.

Nissan will be offering test drives of their LEAF electric cars outside of the Convention Center during daylight hours. On Thursday night when I was there, Nissan didn’t have any electric cars on display inside.
Toyota had no plug-in cars displayed, not even the Plug In Prius. I asked a Toyota representative about their Fuel Cell Vehicle and he said they are offering it in California first and they are not planned for the rest of the country until 2018 or 2019 at the earliest.

Honda also didn’t have a single plug-in electric car there. I asked specifically about the Honda Accord Plug-In and the Honda representative didn’t even know about it.

The Baltimore Auto Show runs through Sunday, January 4, 2015 at the Baltimore Convention Center.


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Note of Appreciation and Happy Holidays!

noteThis note was left on an EV yesterday by a fellow plug-in driver who often shares a dual L1, L2 charging station in a downtown parking garage.

L1 station charging cordThey were expressing their appreciation for the driver, who often arrives first, to voluntarily use their “plug” or Level 1 charging cord and leave the more convenient Level 2 connector available for the person who arrives later. Nice gestures from both of these drivers I think.

Thank you for reading Plug In Sites. I appreciate being able to share charging spots, news, ideas and photos with you over the past few months since starting this project. Stay charged, drive electric and have a happy and safe holiday!


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