While Frederick County still trails several of the larger counties in Maryland in the number of electric and hybrid vehicles, it ranks in the top third in the state, according to information from the state Motor Vehicle Administration.
The MVA recently announced that it will share the number of registered electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the state on the county’s Open Data Portal. The numbers will be available by county or by ZIP code.
Being able to break the information down by jurisdiction can help companies that may be considering putting in charging stations, said MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer.
The information will be updated every month, so people can watch the trends and see how they change and develop, she said.
Drivers who register their electric or hybrid vehicles with the state are eligible for tax credits and other benefits. Maryland had 9,323 electric vehicles and 9,325 plug-in hybrids registered as of February, according to MVA numbers.
Montgomery County had the most vehicles, with 3,686 electrics and 3,016 hybrids, followed by Howard, Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties.
Frederick County ranked seventh in the state in electric vehicles with 386, and sixth in hybrids, with 559.
The county’s ranking is interesting because of how the county is laid out, said Ron Kaltenbaugh, a member of the county’s Sustainability Commission and president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C.
Most electric vehicle charging locations are placed around urban areas, while Frederick County is more rural than urban, he said.
Kaltenbaugh, an electric vehicle driver since 2012, said he sees many more of them when driving around than he used to.
“It used to be an event,” he said.
While electric vehicles used to be exotic, he believes more people now see them as just a normal car.
Meeting drivers’ charging needs will likely mean “connecting the dots” around the area, he said.
There are a decent number of charging stations coming up the Interstate 270 corridor, he said, but going north on U.S. 15 from Frederick, “it’s a bit of a desert.”
There may not be a lot of residents with electric vehicles living in that area, but drivers passing through may need the chargers, he said.
The county can look for ways to increase the number of electrics and hybrids, such as looking for partnerships or finding businesses willing to put in charging stations, making sure its permitting process makes building the infrastructure as easy as possible, Kaltenbaugh said.
Government can help put the pieces in place, but the private market is key to increasing the number of vehicles, said Shannon Moore, manager for the county’s office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources.
She agreed with Kaltenbaugh that electric and hybrid vehicles are quickly becoming more mainstream.
Manufacturers are starting to come out with electric versions of most models, and the vehicles are starting to get about as much mileage as traditional gas-powered vehicles, she said.
The county has added electric buses to its transit fleet, and has other electric or hybrid vehicles as part of its fleet, she said.
Most electric and hybrid vehicles registered in the county are in or near the city, according to the report.
The city of Frederick passed an implementation plan for vehicle charging infrastructure in 2018, which lays out the city’s plans for promoting and developing the equipment necessary for electric vehicles.
People charging at home will fill about 60 percent of the charging needs, the report said, although the city should encourage or require owners of multi-family homes to install charging stations or the necessary infrastructure for vehicles to be charged.
Workplace charging will make up about 35 percent of charging needs, and the city should provide businesses with resources and information on best practices about workplace charging, the report said.
Meanwhile, public charging facilities should be available at municipal parking lots or garages, transit parking, and retail areas that serve employees, residents, commuters, tourists and business clients.
The city would like to put in charging stations, but they’re studying ways to make it economically feasible, said Jenny Willoughby, sustainability manager for the city.
The city’s staff has discussed possible incentives to have businesses put charging stations into private parking lots, she said.
A lot of businesses are starting to see that charging stations can attract customers, who will patronize them while waiting for their vehicles to charge, Kaltenbaugh said.
Not having the necessary chargers to handle the number of electric vehicles that would use them could create a crunch for businesses and governments that haven’t kept up with the infrastructure needs, he said.
“It’s going to be a game of catch-up,” Kaltenbaugh said.