WILL ELECTRIC SLEDS BECOME THE NORM?
This question is big on the minds of everyone these days.
Some of our readers and viewers flat-out tell us they will never buy an electric sled - no matter who builds it; others tell us they can't wait for sparkies to take over so they won't smell like 2-stroke oil after they've been riding. Hmm.
We've already pointed out several times how some huge hurdles have to be jumped over before electric sleds can get a grip on a large portion of the market. The two most talked about are range-to-ride and charging time.
We've also discussed the lack of charging facilities and the cost to install a network of same. We're not going to enlarge on these ginormous challenges we've already noted but there are a couple of other issues that could affect the growth of electrics.
First, there's an awareness we all may be legislated into riding electric sleds as a result of environmental groups having enormous political sway with governments. After all, snowmobilers are what you could call "low hanging fruit" because of the size of our industry compared to, say, the aircraft or auto industry. We're an easy political target because we're less significant - even when paired together with the marine or off-road vehicle market.
To put it into perspective, the amount of pollution we, and these other venues create in a year is probably the equivalent of about a week's use by the other two. However, it doesn't seem to matter much to those wanting to make political hay.
We're not saying this is going to happen - but in the late 1990s we didn't really believe snowmobile OEMs would have to conform to the EPA's Clean Snowmobile mandate either.
Second, there's a tendency to believe the snowmobile biz will have to mirror the auto industry's strong mandates which have the whole auto industry legislated to electric by 2030.
Certainly, this proposal comes from short-sighted politicians with a very limited understanding of what's really required in the electricity generation sector to get to this goal.
It's great to think of a squeaky-clean environment with no fossil fuel activity, but what about the environmental effects of ten times more atomic or coal-fired power generating plants serving a totally electric transport system?
Even if the use of atomic energy and coal is banned, there isn't enough real estate on the continent to put up windmills and solar farms and hydro plants to supply that enormous demand.
Here's one: As pressure continues on the automobile industry and less gasoline powered vehicles are built, it will inevitably drive the cost of gasoline higher, not lower. An extreme increase in gas prices may propel people into electric snowmobiles. A cost of thirty dollars a gallon would undoubtedly have an effect, don't ya think?
Frankly, we look at the future of snowmobiling like a merging of events over a long term. The coordinates would be:
1. Acceptability of electric power in terms of charging and range
2. Increasing price of petroleum
3. Performance of electric vehicles, both on and off-road
4. Acceptance and convenience of automobile electric power
5. Growth of power generating capability
6. Government intervention
If these factors keep moving together, we'll all be riding electric snowmobiles, ATVs, side-x-sides and floating around in electric boats a generation from now.
We recently watched a video of a Tesla Plaid beating the famous 1000-plus horsepower, heavily modified Hoonigan Mustang in a drag race. Pretty stunning. The Tesla owner's total mods to his car were to tint the windows and have some bodywork performed on a dent in it. That was it!
Likewise, with the tweaking of a microchip, a Taiga can boost itself by 100 horsepower. All speculation aside, it's hard to ignore that kind of potential.
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