Whitmer touts new EV chargers to be built in Auburn Hills

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Electric-vehicle charging company FLO will produce a new electric-vehicle fast charger at its Auburn Hills facility that will be shipped across the country to support the company's North American charging network.

The Canada-based company, which produces EV chargers and operates a charging network, made the production news official at an event Wednesday headlined by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at FLO's facility on Pacific Drive. Workers in Auburn Hills will produce FLO's new Ultra Level 3 fast charger, a product the company says can charge most plug-in vehicles to 80% in 15 minutes.

“Today we’re celebrating our ongoing efforts to build up our electric-vehicle charging network and lead the future of mobility," Whitmer said following a tour of the facility. “FLO picked Michigan because of the partnerships that we’re forging and investments that we’re making in cutting-edge companies so that they can continue to expand in our state.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with FLO chief marketing officer Chris Thorson, inserts an FLO EV charging cable into a Ford F-150 Lighting truck.

Chris Thorson, FLO's chief marketing officer, highlighted the acceleration of EV adoption in the United States, spurred by federal policy and subsidies.

"More and more chargers are needed; we just don’t have the infrastructure that we need," he said. "And we need to make sure that we give drivers the confidence in this infrastructure that they can rely on. So in order to meet the aggressive targets that (the United States has) of 50% of all new sales (being electric) by 2030, we need to begin that transition right now."

Whitmer highlighted $110 million in federal funding that Michigan is slated to receive over five years to support the build-out of an EV charging network. FLO Ultra chargers will be available in early 2024, according to the company, and will meet the federal program's minimum requirements. The application period for the funding has not yet opened.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, gives her remarks during the press conference announcing an expansion of FLO Ev charging facility. April 26, 2023, Auburn Hills, Mi.

The state has its own EV charging initiatives, including Charge Up Michigan and the Lake Michigan Circuit, which together aim to install 100,000 chargers to support 2 million EVs on Michigan roads by 2030.

“With many of the EV models becoming available in the next half-decade and because of the rapid growth of EV sales, setting foundational infrastructure within the next three to five years is imperative now more than ever to prepare for the longer-term vision," said Kathryn Snorrason, Michigan's interim chief mobility officer. "With federal investments in EV charging infrastructure under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, demand for U.S.-made EV chargers is about to skyrocket.”

FLO, meanwhile, aims to deploy 250,000 chargers for the U.S. market by 2028. Its Auburn Hills facility currently produces two other chargers. The company expects the Auburn Hills location, which it opened last fall as its first production facility in the United States, to grow to 730 "direct, indirect and induced jobs" in the coming years. The company received an $800,000 grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for the launch of the facility.

David Barrett, operations director for FLO, shows Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a charging station part during a tour Wednesday of the company's production facility in Auburn Hills.

Meanwhile, Whitmer said Wednesday that the state will "put our best foot forward and move fast" to win a new $3 billion EV battery plant General Motors Co. announced Tuesday it plans to build with Samsung in the United States.

“You won’t be surprised to know that I immediately reached out to Mary Barra to say, Michigan wants to continue to be at the top of consideration," Whitmer said. "So as we get more information about what their requirements are, what they’re going to be looking for, we want a seat at the table. And I think we’ve shown to the world, we can move fast, we can work together, and we’re capable of accomplishing big things. That is one part of why I think Michigan makes the most sense for the future of General Motors, but we take nothing for granted."


Twitter: @JGrzelewski