Polaris wins Michigan grant to build off-road charging network

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Two years ago, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced the Lake Michigan EV circuit, a network of Level 2 and DC fast chargers covering a tourist-heavy corridor along Lake Michigan. Looks like state authorities are turning their attention to tourist needs in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.), the outdoor playground that welcomes a ton of powersports enthusiasts. The state’s Office of Future Mobility & Electrification (OFME) created new initiative to partner with private enterprise, the Mobility Public-Private Partnership & Programming. The MP4 is providing Minnesota-based powersports company Polaris a $700,000 grant to build a charging network for electric off-highway vehicles (OHV) along 120 miles of the public off-road trail system in the Upper Peninsula.

Polaris says the buildout will begin later this year. The company’s partnering with Austin, Texas-based Yotta Energy, which will provide hardware like charging stations. The charge points are said to be “an integrated, scalable charging solution designed with solar production capability that can be grid-connected or operate completely off-grid,” and will work with trail-approved electric rigs like side-by-sides, ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles.

Filling out the other end of the equation, Polaris will send Hamilton’s North Coast Adventures, a Polaris Adventures Outfitter in Ontonagon, Michigan, a fleet of Ranger XP Kinetic UTVs available for rent. Polaris has been ramping up production of its battery-electric Ranger that commenced deliveries this year. A second ordering window for dealers and customers will open later this summer after the first window sold out of its allotment. Rental units are planned to reach Hamilton’s North Coast Adventures in 2024. There are undoubtedly more Polaris EVs in the pipeline that will one day be available to UP riders. The company partnered with Zero Motorcycles in 2020 to produce electric powersports vehicles, the Ranger XP Kinetic and its Zero powertrain the first proof-of-concept. 

Charlie Tyson, technology activation manager of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), said, “This program will help to ensure a sustainable future for our state’s outdoor recreation industry while creating new economic opportunities for local communities and attracting investment and talent from around the country.”

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