Take This Park and Wire It: BMW Wants to Get Your EV to the Hills

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
take this park and wire it bmw wants to get your ev to the hills

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.

[Image: Wikipedia ( CC BY-SA 3.0)]

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  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Apr 20, 2017

    I get the impression that the majority of these National Parks are readily accessible by vehicle.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Apr 21, 2017

    How many EV charging standards are there? I know Tesla is different but what about the rest? Can different makes use different chargers? I honestly don't know as my EV experience is limited to an 08 Club Car. Anyway seems that needs to get sorted somewhat.

    • See 2 previous
    • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Apr 21, 2017

      @Giskard CCS does seem to be the future. TESLA is a member of the committee that does the CCS standard, so I assume they will be compatible for DC charging on CCS with the model 3. There currently are more CCS points then Tesla superchargers in the US, but most are not the high current versions so they won't charge as fast as a supercharger, they also tend to not be ideally located. So really you have CCS as the larger but right now inferior network. Tesla, FCA, Ford, GM, VW, BMW, MB, and Hyundai are all using or planning to use CCS. Which leaves the Japanese brands as the only ones on Chademo. For the near future I have read that the CCS standard and Chademo standard are close enough that many new charge points have both connectors with common hardware in the charging box.

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