It’s looking like some sites just might not be feasible. Still, BMW, in partnership with the National Park Foundation, National Park Service and Department of Energy, has hatched a plan to lure electric vehicles out of their safe urban confines and into the wilderness.
It’s starting in New Jersey, about 12 miles west of New York City. (Hey, you have to begin somewhere.)
While the first EV charging station installed by the group can be found, fittingly, at Thomas Edison’s Glenmont laboratory in Llewellyn Park, NJ, plans are afoot to add up to 100 stations in or near national parks in the near future.
You might not see any in the Dry Tortugas, and Denali seems a little remote, but the advent of longer-ranged EVs has made emissions-free road trips possible (at least, with some planning). The current crop of low-cost, Interstate-happy electrics, led by the Chevrolet Bolt, should fuel some demand for the stations, despite EVs making up less than one percent of the U.S. vehicle market.
In a joint news release, the partners said that a team will identify appropriate locations for charging stations. Some could be in towns close to national parks, allowing an EV to slip into the wilderness and back. The site’s proximity to EV-heavy markets is just one of the considerations being looked at.
While the parks people imply that there won’t be a BMW-branded hookup spoiling anyone’s scenic photo, enough opportunities exist to make the initiative worthwhile.
“Dozens of parks have already expressed interest and are exploring site options,” the release states. The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program and BMW will handle the technical side of things.
As of late, there’s no shortage of automakers teaming up with various levels of government to bring electrification to consumers. In its home continent, BMW has already joined with Ford, Daimler and Volkswagen Group to proliferate a high-speed charging network across Europe.
Distances are far greater in the U.S., and national parks are often well off the beaten path. It will be interesting to see if BMW uses its longest ranged electric vehicle — the 114-mile i3 — as a yardstick when it comes to measuring station-to-station distances.