Electric Sleds From Mainstream OEMs?

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Not only are we expecting electric sleds from the current crop of OEMs but we have actually heard officially from BRP on this topic.

I’ll paraphrase what BRP has said recently: It intends to produce electric powered models in every powersport segment it occupies. Essentially, based on this claim, in the next few years we can expect the rollout of an electric Ski-Doo snowmobile.

On top of this, BRP has announced the purchase of Great Wall Motor in Austria, a subsidiary of Great Wall Motor China, an electric technology specialist in the areas of eDrive systems and transmissions. We suspect most of this expertise is in electrified motorcycles.

This seems like a pretty bold move on its own considering BRP does not participate in the 2-wheeled motorcycle market with an internal combustion engine (ICE) product line. It doesn’t matter; the new Can-Am Pulse and Origin electric 2-wheelers are a reality.

So, what about Polaris? We haven’t heard officially from the Polaris snowmobile division whether it intends to enter the electric snowmobile market. However, Polaris is shaking the ground with the just released state-of-the-art, electric Ranger XP Kinetic.

This all-new vehicle uses lithium-ion batteries and is purpose built as an electric vehicle ā€“ not a modified ICE platform. Consider this as well. Polaris has a cozy relationship with ZERO Motorcycles.

The Ranger Kinetic uses ZERO electric motors and numerous other fully developed technologies now available to Polaris from this relationship. ZERO Motorcycles has a substantial amount of market credibility.

So, here’s where we’re at. We expect Ski-Doo to land a full electric snowmobile with strong ties to the ā€œGā€ series chassis in the next couple years. It’s a no brainer for Ski-Doo to jump into the deep end of the pool with its very first electric snowmobile offering.

The excellent technology the brand possesses, combined with superb manufacturing capability and a strong financial position will get Ski-Doo in the electric market with a solid performing vehicle. Keep in mind at this writing the same range and time to recharge realities will be part of the equation. That is, unless the “Super Battery” appears. BTW: if the Super Battery happens it will most certainly come from automotive battery research first.

What about Polaris? We can’t be sure what Polaris will do about an entry into the electric snowmobile market. Polaris will and are addressing the largest volume markets it participates in. Next – I suspect – will be an electrified Sportsman ATV.

The snowmobile market is, from a unit production perspective, quite small compared to the off-road market and Polaris is very savvy about where it spends its development dollars. An electric MATRYX may be a bit still.

Clearly, our sport, among all offroad sports, demands the most from the vehicles we call “snowmobiles”. The reality of severe cold weather use puts snowmobiles in a restrictive range category using current battery technology.

The remote nature of where we ride restricts or at least slows the development of a credible recharging network.

If electric motor range is tricky at warm temperatures it is surely a giant hurdle in 24-7 winter climates.

Mark Lester
Mark Lester
Mark Lester is Co-Publisher of SUPERTRAX Magazine and a regular Host on SNOWTRAX TV.

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