The first plug can be seen at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey.
Busy population centers are typically where you’d expect to see plug-in vehicles and EV charging stations. But amidst the beauty of a national park is a good place to refill your electric ride, too. That’s why BMW has just announced a partnership with the National Park Service, National Park Foundation, and the Department of Energy to install up to 100 EV charging stations at parks and "nearby communities" across the U.S.
The first plug has been installed at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey. As Motorweek pointed out last year, Edison himself built charging stations there a century ago. That’s one reason why the park has been a place for EV advocates to come together to and talk about Edison’s EV and their own, more modern creations in the recent past.
BMW isn’t the only automaker with an electric eye on the National Parks. Tesla has Superchargers near Crater Lake National Park, for example, and there are dozens more across the country. BMW’s goal with this new partnership, of course, is to encourage people to consider buying an electric vehicle. Or, as it says in the press release, driving an EV to the park for recharging, "will help reduce air pollution in parks and gateway communities and allow drivers to channel their inner Thomas Edison as they perhaps choose an electric vehicle for the first time."
Future EV chargers will be located where BMW and the park service thinks it will make the most sense. A team from the automaker and the governmental groups, "will look at factors such as proximity and strength of EV markets, distance from nearby charging locations, and natural and cultural landscape considerations. Dozens of parks have already expressed interest and are exploring site options." Stay tuned.
Gallery: BMW Charging Stations National Park
Calling on the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship of Thomas Edison, the first of up to 100 electric vehicle charging stations in national parks and nearby communities across the country was switched on today during a press conference at Thomas Edison National Historical Park, site of Edison’s West Orange, N.J., laboratory and home. BMW of North America has partnered with the National Park Foundation, National Park Service and Department of Energy to make electric vehicles a feasible option for travel to national parks.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the next 100 years of both the BMW Group and National Park Service than by making America’s national parks more accessible to drivers of electric vehicles,” remarked Ludwig Willisch, Head of BMW Group Region Americas. “Together with our partners, I hope that we can channel a little of Edison’s spirit and, in the same way that he made electric power widely available, make electric vehicle charging more widely available for everyone.”
The availability of electric vehicle chargers will help reduce air pollution in parks and gateway communities as well as demonstrate the viability of electric vehicles in everyday life. With the installation of the first charging stations at Thomas Edison National Historical Park complete, an integrated team from this public-private partnership will continue to identify park locations for additional charging stations. The team will look at factors such as proximity and strength of EV markets, distance from nearby charging locations, and natural and cultural landscape considerations. Dozens of parks have already expressed interest and are exploring site options.
The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program works with the National Park Service to provide technical assistance to support sustainable transportation projects at national park sites. These projects educate visitors on the benefits of advanced and alternative vehicles and can help the National Park Service meet their energy and environmental goals. The benefits of these projects have the opportunity to reach far beyond the boundaries of the national parks. DOE Clean Cities will work with the national parks and BMW to continue providing technical expertise.
Michael T. Reynolds, Acting National Park Service Director, said, “Electric vehicles have come a long way since Thomas Edison plugged his first electric car into a charging station in his own garage. Today’s EVs are clean, quiet, energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions which help to reduce air pollution in parks and local communities. That benefits the visitor experience and helps us preserve parks for future generations to enjoy.”
The effects of a changing climate have led the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to focus on minimizing greenhouse gas contributions and reducing drivers’ carbon footprint. Through this public-private partnership, these organizations can provide opportunities for the use of alternative fuel vehicles as one way to preserve national parks for future generations to enjoy.
“Thanks to BMW's support, sustainable travel will expand across the National Park System,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “These charging stations will also increase visitation to the parks and serve as a great asset for surrounding gateway communities.”
This partnership supports the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. BMW will sponsor electric vehicle charging costs for all electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle drivers at Thomas Edison National Historical Park for the next six months.