Bringing EV Charging Across North America

Services FLO Inc.

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 13. Climate Action

Overview

FLO’s innovation is two-fold. The company offers electric vehicle charging solutions at home, workplace, public areas which form an EV charging network, wherever these chargers are installed. However, there is a second component to their technology which is not so easily visible to the end-user. With traditional charger, if multiple vehicles are plugged into the energy grid at the same time, a peak demand for energy will occur, causing a huge strain on the system. The FLO chargers, through the efforts of the company's engineering, Technology and Hardware division have developed a method of charging that charges EV batteries at a slower pace in order to smooth the demand for electricity.

Author

Annabelle Chan

Annabelle Chan

School

York University- Schulich School of Business

York University- Schulich School of Business

Professor

Charles Cho

Charles Cho

Innovation

According to the Director of Communications for FLO, Sylvain Bouffard, FLO aims to make a long-term change in the EV charging industry by making the charging process the least disruptive as possible by creating “less critical pure net demand for energy.” The system uses a software solution called Power Limiting and Power Sharing that monitors electricity usage from nearby chargers and regulates the strain on the overall system. By doing so, the chargers address the risk that electric utility companies face, as overall energy demand increases with the growing adoption of EVs. The utility companies no longer need to increase their carbon footprint by expanding their infrastructure because FLO’s solution allows communities to “charge their EVs but minimize the impact” on the energy grid, according to Bouffard.


These innovations created by FLO make them an "integrated company in charging solution,"as said by Bouffard. By creating a new form of innovative industry, FLO's EV charging network solution helps to further the UN Sustainable Development Goals in infrastructure by increasing the overall accessibility of EV adoption. And by partnering with cities and workplaces, FLO contributes to creating sustainable cities and communities.

Bringing EV Charging Across North America

Inspiration

The inspiration for FLO comes from the founder’s background in Engineering, passion about EVs, and the desire to accelerate the growth of EV adoption. While in Laval University, Tremblet “built an Electric Vehicle (but) realized it will not be successful if there was no charging infrastructure for people to rely on,” said Bouffard. Tremblet developed a solution to interface between EVs and the power grid. Hence, the first of FLOs EV charging solutions was born to become a part of a larger EV charging network across the country.

Overall impact

By creating a vast EV charging network throughout Canada, FLO enables drivers to reach longer distances and achieve more utility from their vehicle. The visibility of the FLO charger installations has not gone unnoticed by the public at large.

In Montreal, where 1000 curb side FLO chargers are installed, the company first noticed that for specific neighbourhoods most users of the chargers were drivers not local to the neighbourhood. However, a shift occurred: FLO started seeing locals start to use the service. Not only had their number of users increased, but adoption of EVs in those neighbourhood had also increased as locals saw the benefit and convenience of the FLO’s EV charging network.

By making EV charging more accessible, the barriers to ownership and switching to owning an Electric Vehicle are reduced; thus, reducing the number of cars on the roads relying on unsustainable fossil fuels. In January 2020, Canadian Tire announced that, in collaboration with FLO, they will be installing EV chargers at their Canadian Tire Gas stations to support the growing EV infrastructure.


Business benefit

Thanks to the success of its EV charging devices, FLO has grown to be the largest EV charging network in Canada. The company provides comprehensive EV charging to Canadian EV drivers across the country and it has now even spread to the United States.

In 2019, FLO completed an installation of 100 of its curb-side chargers in partnership with the city of Los Angeles, California. They currently have a new installation planned for New York. With each installation completed, the value of the company’s charging network increases.


Social and environmental benefit

With the increased spread of EV chargers geographically, FLO has enabled EV drivers to increase their driving range and options. Furthermore, the visibility of their devices in the public sphere has helped promote the viability of EV and increase adoption rates. Drivers no longer need to make the sacrifice between the utility of a fossil fuel burning vehicle for the limited battery life of an EV. Finally, by incorporating energy consumption management within the FLO devices, utility companies will rest easy knowing that increased EV adoption will not burden their existing infrastructure. FLO offers a responsible electric vehicle charging ecosystem by brining innovations in infrastructure to enable sustainable cities and communities.

Interview

Sylvain Bouffard, Director of Communications and Public Affairs

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Services FLO Inc.

Services FLO Inc.

Quebec City, Quebec, CA

Business Website: https://www.flo.com/

Year Founded: 2009

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

FLO offers a comprehensive network of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging solutions across Canada. From curb-side charging to at-home installations, FLO's goal is to make it convenient and easy to supply power to the growing market for EVs and their drivers.