The first of up to 100 electric-vehicle charging stations in national parks and nearby communities is switched on at Thomas Edison National Historical Park, the site of the inventor’s laboratory and home at West Orange, NJ.

The stations are the result of efforts by the National Park Foundation, National Park Service Department of Energy and BMW of North America to make EVs a practical option for travel to national parks. The stations also will help reduce air pollution in the parks and gateway communities near park entrances.

“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,” Ludwig Willisch, head of BMW Group Region Americas, says in a news release.

Members of the public-private partnership are identifying park locations for additional charging stations. They will consider factors such as proximity and strength of EV markets, distance from nearby charging locations, and natural and cultural landscape features. Dozens of the country’s 417 national parks already have expressed interest and are studying site options.

The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program will work with the national parks and BMW to provide technical assistance to the project.

‟Thanks to BMWʼs support, sustainable travel will expand across the National Park System,” says Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, a nonprofit that raises private funds to benefit the national parks. ‟These charging stations will also increase visitation to the parks and serve as a great asset for surrounding gateway communities.ˮ

jirwin@wardsauto.com