WEST ORANGE, NJ — BMW of North America recently partnered with the National Park Foundation (NPF), National Park Service (NPS) and Department of Energy (DOE) to install up to 100 electric-vehicle charging stations across the country, some of which were switched on at Thomas Edison National Historical Park (NHP) in West Orange on Wednesday.

The electric-vehicle charging stations now located at Thomas Edison NHP, the site of Edison’s West Orange-based laboratory and home, call on the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship of Edison, according to the public-private partnership team that installed them.  

“We are very excited about this improvement at the Edison Museum on Main Street,” said Megan Brill, executive director of the West Orange Downtown Alliance. “It’s our hope that while the cars are getting charged, people will visit the museum and spend some money at the hair salons, restaurants and apparel stores near the charging stations.”

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Edison, who had his own electric car in 1897, spent 10 years working on a marketable, electric storage battery for electric cars. As electric cars become increasingly more popular today, the partnership and donation of the charging stations is intended to enhance visitors’ experiences at America’s national parks because electric vehicles run quietly and efficiently without emitting greenhouse gases.

A press conference announcing the new public-private partnership that brought the charging stations to the Thomas Edson NHP was held on site at 211 Main Street on Wednesday morning. NPF President Will Shafroth said he hopes these charging stations will increase visitation to the park and serve as an asset for the surrounding community.

“It’s wonderful to see this expansion of Innovation at the Edison Museum,” said Ysabel Strowe, owner of Ysabel’s Salon in West Orange, located nearby at 271 Main Street. “My team members and I are working on a special promotion to attract these electric car drivers and their families to our salon.” 

West Orange Councilman Jerry Guarino, a Friends of Edison board member, was also at the press conference. He said there is a lot of positive change happening along the Main Street corridor and that the township is fortunate to have a national park downtown. 

“The addition of the charging stations at the museum is another example of the commitment corporations have in West Orange,” said Guarino. “I want to thank BMW & The National Parks Service for carrying on Edison’s legacy of innovation and allowing your first donation to be at our National Park here in West Orange.”  

According to the team of this public-private partnership, park locations will continue to be identified for additional charging stations. The team announced this week that with the installation of the charging stations at Thomas Edison NHP, dozens of other parks have already expressed interest and are exploring site options.