Image Credit: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Polaris

Off-Road Electric Vehicle Charging Network Launched In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

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Most of the electric vehicle news in the US tends to be about personal transportation — cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, e-bikes, electric motorcycles, and the like. They are mostly driven on paved surfaces. The pickup trucks such as the Rivian R1T, the Ford Lightning, and the Cybertruck can be used for off-road situations.

What doesn’t get nearly as much press are the smaller electric vehicles that are purpose-built for off-roading: all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-road vehicles (ORVs) or utility-vehicles (UTVs). In particular they may be well-suited for electrification because the EV versions are quiet in natural or work environments and they generate no direct exhaust.

To support off-road electric vehicles, Polaris, Inc. and the State of Michigan launched a new off-road electric vehicle charging network in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A kickoff event was held on June 6 at Miller’s Cottages in Ontonagon, Michigan.

To provide more details about the new off-road charging network, Andrew Chasse, Vice President of Strategy and Partnership at Polaris, answered some questions for CleanTechnica.

The off-road electric vehicle charging network supports around 100 miles of scenic off-road trails in the Upper Peninsula. How many total chargers are there? How much space is between each charger?

There are four installed electric vehicle charging stations on state-designated ORV trails in the woods of Ontonagon County. Each station has 4 charge ports.

The locations were selected by connection to the trail network, distance between each location, and the area’s surrounding amenities. The four locations fit those criteria really well.

The four chargers are deployed:

Ontonagon –  Great charging location where people can stop and enjoy the wonder of Lake Superior, explore the town and nearby restaurant White Pine, This location is on Hamilton’s Adventure where we are running our RANGER XP Kinetic Fleet. 

Bergland – This charging station is situated on the north shore of Lake Gogebic, the largest natural inland lake on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There is also a restaurant and ice cream shop nearby.

Greenland – Located next to Adventure Mine Tours, an incredible local area attraction

In terms of distance between the chargers, it ranges between 20 to 38 miles.

Is charging free, or about what will the cost be?

These are free of charge to users. Each EV charging station has solar panels to help generate electricity. Excess energy is put back into the grid.  

What vehicles can use the EV chargers and what kind of connectors will work?

This project focused on building a network of EV charging stations on existing ORV trails. The charging stations offer standard Level 2 charging ports.

Will the chargers work all year?

Yes, the chargers are available for use all-year long.

Will the Polaris EVs be able to use the outdoor EV chargers?

Yes. The Polaris outfitter in the UP is the first in the country to offer the electric RANGER XP Kinetic rentals. But these are also not built solely for the RANGER XP Kinetic. The charging stations use the standard Level 2 port, so non-Polaris off-road vehicles that use that standard charging port will be able to use the charging stations.  

Do you have any expectation for how many people might use the off-road charging network?

As it relates to the ORV rentals, this is our grand opening celebration. This program is really just starting to ramp up as we get into the summer riding season. Our Outfitter has been running booking with these vehicles already over the last couple of weeks. We expect this will continue to ramp up.  

Do the riders on the trails need a permit or license for their off-road EVs?

In Michigan, an ORV license and ORV trail permit are required for all off-road vehicles on the designated ORV trails, this is no different if it is a traditional gas-powered off-road vehicle or an electric off-road vehicle.


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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

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