Poised for electrification of buses and trucks, charging company opens facility in Atlanta

Heliox CEO Michael Colijn (left) shakes hands with Georgia's economic development commissioner Pat Wilson as the company's U.S. Technology Center Opens in Atlanta (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Inside Heliox’s just-opened U.S. Technology Center, a brand new MARTA electric bus sits quietly charging. 

And it feels a bit like the future.

But David Aspinwall, the president of Heliox North America, says he expects the transition to electric buses to happen sooner than one might think.

“In a quick 5-10 year period of time, diesel buses and old fuel buses are almost retired in the Netherlands and we see the same trajectory here,” said Aspinwall.

As public transit operators like MARTA begin using millions of federal dollars to purchase electric buses, the need for reliable charging technology is becoming more urgent.

Heliox, which was founded in the Netherlands, has set up in Atlanta ready to provide service for heavy-duty electric vehicles.

The new $1.5 million facility is where technicians from MARTA and other companies will come to train how to properly use the new chargers, and where the chargers will be tested out.

Aspinwall says labor shortages and supply chain issues have provided challenges for the company. But he says they’re easing.

“When we first started about a year ago, there was only one cable manufacturer in the U.S. that could make the amperage that we need for our products – but now there’s three,” Aspinwall said. “So it’s helping as this whole ecosystem is growing, but there’s challenges every day to grow as fast as the market is growing.”

Heliox has been building chargers for heavy-duty vehicles in Europe since it was founded in 2009.

“This is the beginning of a wave of transition in electric mobility,” said Pat Wilson, Georgia’s economic development commissioner. “That’s only going to happen if companies like Heliox can be here to partner and provide the backbone of technology and innovation that we need to move this forward.”

Heliox also has plans to work with universities and colleges around Atlanta to develop new charging technology and the workers to operate it.