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BMW Installing ~100 EV Charging Stations At/Near US National Parks

Up to 100 electric vehicle charging stations will be installed at national parks throughout the US thanks to a newly announced partnership between BMW of North America and the National Park Foundation (NPF), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

Photo by David Rose for BMW of North America.

Up to 100 electric vehicle charging stations will be installed at national parks throughout the US thanks to a newly announced partnership between BMW of North America and the National Park Foundation (NPF), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

The announcement was made as the first of the new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations was brought online today at a press conference CleanTechnica was invited to at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, in West Orange, New Jersey.

A 2017 BMW i3 electric vehicle with an electric charging station built by Thomas Edison in 1904. Photo by David Rose for BMW of North America.

Following this event, a team made up of representatives from the organizations referenced above will reportedly be working to identify further locations at and near US national parks where electric vehicle (EV) charging stations can be based.

The determining factors behind these location choices will be:

  • the strength of local EV markets,
  • proximity,
  • distance from already established EV charging sites, and
  • aesthetic/cultural factors.

Notably, though, around a dozen (or more) national park locations have already reportedly shown interest and are now exploring location possibilities.

A 2017 BMW i3 electric vehicle and 1914 Detroit Electric Model 47 owned by Thomas Edison and their charging stations inside of Thomas Edison’s Glenmont garage at Thomas Edison National Historic Park in West Orange, NJ. Photo by David Rose for BMW of North America.

Photo by David Rose for BMW of North America.

As far as the involvement of the US Department of Energy, which may have seemed slightly out of place, that organization will apparently be providing technical assistance to various national park “sustainable transportation” initiatives — apparently intended to serve as education for National Park Service visitors and to allow the organization to achieve various energy and sustainability goals that have been set. The DOE’s Clean Cities body will be involved in this.

In relation to the PR event held at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park today, BMW has announced that the new EV charging stations there will have their charging costs sponsored by BMW for the next half year.

“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.”

Notably, the press release sent to CleanTechnica mentions and highlights with a DOI link the threat of climate change: “The effects of a changing climate have led the Department of the Interior and the NPS to focus on how we can minimize our greenhouse gas contributions and reduce our carbon footprint. Through this public private partnership we can provide opportunities for the use of alternative fuel vehicles and that’s one way we can preserve parks for future generations to enjoy.” Take that for what you will with regards to today’s political scene.

Michael T. Reynolds, Acting National Park Service Director, added: “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.”

Meanwhile, BMW’s reps seemed to be touched, thrilled, or something else along those lines by the opportunity to have a historic moment with historic tech from Thomas Edison and Detroit Electric.

“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.”


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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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