white flo logo

A Paradigm-Shifting EV Charger

charging at a flo station
The Story

Driving innovation into the EV charging landscape

Electric vehicles may have started out as a niche product for the affluent or eco-conscious, but they’ve quickly captured a sizable share of the transportation market. As the technology becomes more mainstream, the EV charging market must face the same difficulties associated with traditional fueling experience (safety, convenience, etc.), while also navigating the hurdles that any emerging technology must face like hesitation born from lack of familiarity. All these factors together mean that the charging market is ripe for innovation.  

Having already developed the largest EV charging network in Canada, FLO approached M3 to collaborate with their internal team to design a new fast DC charger that would help them penetrate the US market. To make a splash in this crowded and competitive space, the new charger would need to stand out from its competition in both functionality and design. Enter FLO Ultra™.  

2 cars at a charging station
long charging cable concept
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The Details

Flexible Parking Configurations

The interface panels on each end-cap can swap sides to allow two different parking configurations. One arrangement mimics a traditional parking lot where cars are parked alongside each other and the other mimics a gas station where cars are parked on either side of the charger. The flexibility afforded by this strategy allows the charger to accommodate a wider variety of charging sites.

2 cars sharing a charging station
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The Details

Dual User Interface

Most chargers on the market use a single screen interface to operate multiple charging ports. Research revealed that this setup can lead to a confusing and potentially awkward user experience. To address this pain point, the project team chose to incorporate two separate screens with considerable space between them. This layout clears up any confusion around which chargers are available and allows customers to charge their vehicle completely independent of any other customer. 

man next to charging station
person next to charging station
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The Details

Enhanced Safety

EV chargers are often placed in poorly lit corners of parking lots and the towering form most DC chargers follow reduces customer visibility even further. The low profile of FLO Ultra™ allows customers to see over and around the unit, improving awareness of their surroundings. Overhead lighting illuminates the charger and surrounding area, and also serves as a status light to identify open chargers from afar.

dual charging station
charging stations at night

How do we reimagine the charging experience?

M3 worked with the FLO team to not only design a new charger, but also an entirely new approach to the charging experience. To get started, the team dove headfirst into various cycles of research to better understand the technology we were working with, its users, and its market.

post-its on a whiteboard

Understand the Journey

The team utilized stakeholder journey mapping to identify design opportunities and goals that would be critical to the success of FLO Ultra™. Establishing infrastructure, site planning, and component accessibility were key elements for service techs and install teams. Both new and experienced EV drivers needed a streamlined, consistent, and reliable experience. It started with locating a charging station, proceeding to payment, initiating a charging session and finally, receiving clear communication from the charger about their vehicle’s charging status.  

charging station mockups

Redefine the Norm

Early in the process, the M3 team encouraged FLO to think beyond the conventional approach to DC fast charging. Using internal components supplied by FLO engineers, the team explored numerous configurations to determine which layouts would be most approachable, safe and equipped to handle every charging scenario. This exercise yielded the grounded, low-profile architecture that makes the FLO Ultra™ so unique. 

charging station mockup

Improve the Function

A single FLO Ultra™ is capable of delivering up to 320kW, which means the cable must be liquid cooled. This makes each cable heavy, stiff, and extremely difficult to manage. Close collaboration with the FLO team led to a greater understanding of how the cable bends and extends in order to determine the best method for controlling the cable in its active and inactive states. The full team overcame these challenges with the overhead cable management system that offloads some of the weight of the cable, keeps the charging cable off the ground, and allows the cable to reach the charging port of any EV.

pull-thru charging station
pull-thru charging station at night
cars charging at flo ultra station
pull-thru flo charging station
Charging station demonstration at show
Flo chargers at conference
Flo chargers at conference
filling station

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