In a combined effort with the National Park Foundation, National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of Energy, BMW North America has donated 100 electrical vehicle charging stations for use in America’s national parks. As of this writing, 90 of the charging stations are currently operational, with the final ten slated to come online during this month. BMW NA CEO Bernhard Kuhnt said, “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.”

Us Americans are lucky to enjoy a strong concentration of natural wonders within our borders, which have been preserved and protected by the national park system. I was lucky enough to grow up spending my summers going on trips to these parks, and got to see most of what this country has to offer from Colorado to the West Coast. For those not well versed though, national parks and national forests are places where development has not been allowed, and for a long time, this even extended to cell service.

It’s difficult enough to find gasoline within the borders of a national park, should you have neglected to fill up before entering, let alone an EV charging station. For a long time, before EVs had any sort of practical range, this essentially barred them from entering the larger parks, like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Kings Canyon, Rocky Mountain, or Grand Teton. During the decision making process that preceded installation of the charging stations, factors such as the proximity and strength of the local EV market, the distance to other charging stations, landscape and environmental concerns were all considered.

National Park Service deputy director P. Daniel Smith said, “The automobile has long been central to the great American vacation in national parks. 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 use electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.” Smith is right. The car is an intrinsic element of American culture at this point, and a quintessential part of the picture is a family excursion to a national park, which of course begins with a long road trip.

As time and technology advance, seemingly in lockstep, it won’t be long until range anxiety and associated concerns are a thing of the past. Nonetheless, first steps like this remain important, and BMW has been at the forefront of building the infrastructure of tomorrow.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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