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 has been switched on at Thomas Edison National Historical Park, site of the inventor's laboratory and home in West Orange, New Jersey.
The partnership launched Wednesday brings together the efforts of the National Park Foundation, National Park Service, Department of Energy and BMW of North America to make electric vehicles a feasible option for travel to national parks. The availability of this option 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.
“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,” said 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.”
With the installation of charging stations at Thomas Edison National Historical Park underway, a team from this 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 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 parks. These projects educate visitors on the benefits of advanced and alternative vehicles and can help the National Park Service meet its energy and environmental goals. The benefits of these projects have the opportunity to reach far beyond the boundaries of national parks.
“Electric vehicles have come a long way since Thomas Edison plugged his first electric car into a charging station in his own garage," said Michael T. Reynolds, the acting director of the National Park Service. "Today’s EVs are clean, quiet, energy-efficient, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which helps 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 Park Service to focus on how society can minimize greenhouse gas contributions and reduce the country's carbon footprint.
“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.”