Charge!

New players bolt their way into the state’s electric automotive race
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David Aspinwall at Heliox Atlanta

Doing business on the edge of a cutting-edge industry is not for the weak of will or wallet. When Netherlands-based electric vehicle (EV) player Heliox opened a new headquarters in the Brookwood Hills area of Atlanta last May, the company trumpeted pedal-to-the-metal plans to literally electrify the continent.

Supply chain problems initially shorted that vision. But the company continues to press forward. “It’s never as fast as you want,” admits David Aspinwall, Heliox’s president of U.S. operations. “But we’re moving at a very good pace. We’re where we need to be. And we’re looking forward to a big 2022. I think 2022 will be a major tipping point for the industry.”

Heliox provides management solutions for electric vehicle charging systems. System design and software development are the primary functions at the new Atlanta facility. A market leader in Europe, Heliox is concentrating on electric bus and truck fleets here, not passenger cars, working closely with entities like MARTA and state universities for clean-energy solutions.

Most of the U.S. remains far behind Europe in EV rapid-charging infrastructure. “We have to build a whole ecosystem for electric vehicles in the U.S.,” Aspinwall says. “As much as anything, not just necessarily selling our product, we’re teaching them what they need to worry about, how they can spend their money efficiently.”

Aspinwall says Heliox could directly employ 150 people in Atlanta by the end of 2023. The company is opening an 18,000-square-foot research and development facility in Brookwood Hills that provides hands-on experience for those who will be servicing the fast-chargers.

Heliox joins a booming Georgia automotive industry that includes headquarters for, among others, Cox Automotive, Porsche Cars North America, and Mercedes-Benz USA. Electric vehicle maker Rivian recently announced plans to build a $5 billion manufacturing plant east of Atlanta. The state also boasts a major automotive battery plant ramping up in Jackson County and vehicle manufacturers like West Point’s Kia and Fort Valley-based school bus giant Blue Bird. In the past five years, Georgia has seen some 78 automotive-related companies move into or deepen their roots in the state, creating more than 6,300 new jobs.

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