Polaris launches first-of-its-kind free off-road charging network for adventure EVs

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Polaris, which pushed hard into electric vehicles with its Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic electric UTV, has just announced the launch of a “first of its kind” off-road charging network in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Polaris Inc. and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) together inaugurated the innovative electric off-road vehicle charging network in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, marking a significant milestone in the modernization of the state’s mobility offerings. The announcement comes nearly a year after Polaris was awarded the Mobility Public-Private Partnership & Programming grant through the Michigan Office of Future Mobility & Electrification (OFME) to develop and maintain the off-road charging network.

“It is an honor to mark the opening of this unique off-road electric charging network developed in partnership with the State of Michigan and the local communities along this trail system. Polaris and Michigan are connected in our efforts to bring exciting innovation and the latest technology to outdoor recreation,” explained Andrew Chasse, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships at Polaris. “I’d like to thank the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in particular for allowing Polaris the opportunity to play a role in such an important initiative for the state and this standout milestone for the powersports industry.”

The new network, which is the first of its kind, spans approximately 100 miles (160 km) of scenic off-road trails and features four charging stations located in Ontonagon, White Pine, Bergland, and Greenland.

These stations, developed in partnership with Texas-based Yotta Energy, are equipped with Yotta’s REV charging stations, which include solar production capacity and 120kWh of onboard energy storage. This technology is designed to function both on-grid and off-grid, making it ideal for remote and urban locations.

“Michigan is known as a Make-It State, leveraging our incredible talent pool that brings together innovation, grit, determination, and visionary products of the future,” added Justine Johnson, State of Michigan Chief Mobility Officer. “Working in tandem with Polaris to launch an electric off-road vehicle charging network in the Upper Peninsula exemplifies how working through public-private partnerships brings ideation to fruition in every corner of Michigan. We applaud Polaris’s effort to support the growth of a reliable EV charging infrastructure in one of Michigan’s favorite ORV riding destinations.”

Alongside the charging network, Polaris announced the launch of the nation’s first all-electric off-road vehicle rental fleet. Hamilton’s North Coast Adventures, a Polaris Adventures Outfitter near Ontonagon, is offering rentals of Polaris’ all-electric RANGER XP Kinetic. This initiative allows customers to explore the Pioneer ORV Trail with the latest electric off-road vehicles while utilizing the new charging network.

Gray Rentz, Vice President of Polaris Experience, emphasized the importance of this development: “Polaris Adventures was started with the goal of helping more people experience powersports and discover new ways to enjoy the outdoors, and this launch of our first electric off-road vehicle rental experience in the country will continue to do just that.”

Since launching the all-electric RANGER XP Kinetic utility side-by-side in 2023, Polaris has been at the forefront of integrating electric drive into off-road powersports. The company aims to enhance the riding experience with electric powertrain technology, which offers benefits like improved acceleration, control, quieter operations, and zero emissions. Polaris is also focused on testing electric prototypes across its product platforms and will commercialize where electrification significantly enhances customer experience.

Electrek’s Take

As someone who enjoys every opportunity to appreciate nature in its most unmolested form, this news couldn’t be better.

Off-road vehicles are a great way to access remote areas and enjoy trails that would be too far to hike, but historically, their loud and polluting combustion engines have been a major downside.

Micah Toll test drives the all-electric Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic in an Alabama forest

I’ve tested the Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic electric side-by-side, and it’s amazing how it offers the power and comfort of a premium UTV yet is nearly as quiet as huffing it on foot.

Being able to hear the leaves crunch under your tires is something you don’t normally experience on most off-road vehicles, and don’t get me started on the other issues like sound pollution, exhaust smell, and other downsides.

So, encouraging the switch to electric drive in the off-road power sports industry couldn’t come sooner. These types of charging networks are what will make that a reality, offering remote “re-fueling” opportunities that you could never hope to achieve with a gas station network.

I’m also glad to see that these chargers are free to use. Let’s be honest: These aren’t going to be highly trafficked areas. This isn’t a shopping mall parking lot; it’s a secluded rural area. So it’s not like anyone is hoping to make a living off of the few bucks a day worth of charging. Instead, using state money through a grant to offer a charging station like feels like it’s for the public good, similar to installing water fountains in a park or bike repair stands along bike trails. It’s not like the cost to charge is going to make or break the trip for someone, especially when these vehicles cost tens of thousands of dollars. But no one wants to figure out how to subscribe to a new charging network while on the side of a trail.

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