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Congress Considers EV Chargers For National Parks As BMW Completes Charger Installation

Range is a peculiar thing when it comes to electric cars. If an EV has a stated range of 200 miles, that means most drivers won’t venture more than 75 miles away from home. Here’s the way their thinking goes — 75 miles to get there, 75 miles to get home, and a 50 mile safety factor because, you know, nobody wants to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a flat battery. What that means is lots of EV drivers won’t visit America’s national parks.

That is changing, though, because if there is an EV charger at the destination, that changes the entire calculus.

BMW Donates 100 EV Chargers To National Parks

“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 Historical Park in West Orange, NJ. BMW of North America, the National Park Service, National Park Foundation and Department of Energy hosted a press conference on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 to announce a partnership that will install up to 100 electric vehicle charging stations in and around America’s national parks. Photo credit: David Rose for BMW of North America.” Courtesy BMW of North America.

Back in 2017, BMW began installing 100 EV chargers at several national parks in the United States. This was done in partnership with the National Park Foundation, National Park Service, and Department of Energy. The last of those donated chargers are scheduled to be operational by the end of this month. When choosing where to install the chargers, the partners considered such things as the proximity and strength of EV markets, distance from nearby charging locations, and natural and cultural landscape considerations.

“We can’t think of a better way to enjoy the summer than visiting one of America’s beautiful national parks. In making electric vehicle charging more widely available for everyone, this joint effort serves to make America’s national parks more accessible to drivers of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles,” said Bernhard Kuhnt,  CEO of BMW’s North American operations in a press release.

“Thanks to public-private partnership, electric vehicle drivers can enjoy a quintessential national park road trip,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Not only will drivers benefit but also the businesses and communities at the doorstep of our treasured national parks.”

The Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office provided technical assistance to support innovative energy saving transportation projects at national park sites. These projects educate visitors on the benefits of advanced and alternative fuel vehicles and can help the National Park Service meet their energy, economic, and environmental goals. The benefits of these projects have the opportunity to reach far beyond the boundaries of the national parks.

“The automobile has long been central to the great American vacation in national parks,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “While our treasured landscapes offer familiar vistas time after time, the automobile has changed greatly, and parks want to meet the needs of our visitors who electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. This partnership with BMW, the Department of Energy and the National Park Foundation offers electric car drivers a place to charge the car while recharging themselves with nature and parks.”

Legislation To Add EV Chargers At National Parks Introduced

100 EV chargers is a nice start, but hardly sufficient to meet the needs of all electric car drivers visiting their national parks. To push the program further, Congressman Mike Levin of California introduced legislation this week that would require the installation of EV chargers at all national parks. His Green Spaces, Green Vehicles Act would expand the charging infrastructure on National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service lands across the United States. It would also require them to convert their fleets, including shuttle buses, to zero-emission electric or hydrogen full-cell power. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector are destroying our planet, polluting the air we breathe, and driving the climate crisis,” said Levin at a press conference, according to a report by the Times of Sandy Eggo.  “It is imperative that we expedite the transition to cleaner cars and expand the charging infrastructure they require.” Soon, driving an EV to a US national park may not be as daunting a task as it has been in the past.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.


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