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FLO to install 500 fast EV chargers at 130 Metro grocery stores in Ontario and Quebec


A person walks past a Tesla charging at a public PlugNYC electric vehicle charger  (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

The new charging stations will be split roughly evenly between Metro locations in Ontario and Quebec (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images) (Alexi Rosenfeld via Getty Images)

The Canadian electric vehicle (EV) charging provider FLO has signed a deal with grocery giant Metro to install 500 fast charging ports at 130 grocery stores in Ontario and Quebec.

FLO, privately held and based in Quebec City, will own and operate the charging stations, which will be built with previously-announced financing provided through the Canadian Infrastructure Bank.

“The market is there, utilization is there, return on investment is there, and now that we can access capital, the next thing was to find some partners,” FLO CEO Louis Tremblay told Yahoo Finance Canada in an interview. “So Metro is one of the first we’re announcing that has perfect locations — we have two types of sites, close to the highway and close to the community.”

Metro (MRU.TO), which operates stores under the Metro, Super C, Food Basics and Marché Adonis banners, will benefit from an unspecified revenue share from the charging stations, Tremblay said. “But bear in mind that they have a big incentive also to bring people to their locations to spend in their locations. So it was just fitting well with their plan of electrifying their parking lots as well.”

Adding EV charging stations to retail locations achieves two things, said Amaiya Khardenavis, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie who specializes in EV charging infrastructure. “It reduces the inconvenience of making a trip specifically to a charging location, and allows the site host to monetize the customer dwell time.”

The announcement comes during an inflection point for EV charging infrastructure in Canada. Research suggests charging stations aren’t coming online fast enough to keep pace with EV sales, and upheaval in Tesla’s Supercharger division — which currently operates far more fast chargers in Canada than any other company — has added to those concerns. The number of Canadians intending to buy an EV has dropped this year, with concerns about charging infrastructure among the main factors.

In the United States, 70 per cent of government funding to develop “charging corridors” along highways has gone to “travel centres, grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants,” Khardenavis said, indicating “the maturity of the retail charging business model.”

The exact list of stores where the new FLO stations will be built is still to be determined, but Tremblay said the 130 locations would be roughly split between Quebec and Ontario. “There’s more EVs now in Quebec,” he said, but FLO expects there will eventually be more EVs in Ontario.

The charging stations will feature FLO’s new dual port fast chargers, which can provide up to 320 kilowatts of power, capable of charging a vehicle to 80 per cent in around 15 minutes. Tremblay says that higher charging power, orders of magnitude above Level 1 and Level 2 chargers, is essential for some “destination charging” venues, such as grocery stores and restaurants, where customers usually aren’t spending multiple hours.

“At a restaurant you need more than a standard charger there to fully charge in an hour,” Tremblay said, versus a hotel where a traveller can charge overnight. “So there’s a mix of need depending on the dwell time.”

FLO has committed to building 1,900 fast chargers by 2027 through the Canadian Infrastructure Bank investment, announced in April 2023. The financing terms are based upon usage, not a fixed time window, helping to address short-term profitability issues in areas where EV adoption is still low.

John MacFarlane is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jmacf. Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.





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