Will You Ride the Electric Wave?

Ford's new electric F-150 Lightning is making waves, which made us curious about the latest e-developments with another type of vehicle: ATVs.

ATVs have evolved into a must-have for hunters, anglers, and backwoods explorers. The popularity of ATVs began in the early 1980s as the primary mode of transportation for sporting enthusiasts. The ubiquitous 4-wheeler enjoyed great technological advances since those early days, becoming progressively larger and more powerful but one thing remained the same: they're all gas-powered! 

Not anymore. Electric ATVs are big business, thanks to the rising number of government policies encouraging electric vehicles, better availability of charging infrastructure, as well as environmental concerns. A 2020 report by the American National Standards Institute found "the global electric ATV and UTV market accounted for $468.9 million in 2019 and is expected to reach $4.30 billion by 2030." 

It's no wonder the ATV industry followed the auto industry's lead by developing electric offerings suitable for outdoor enthusiasts. A small handful of manufacturers are taking the environmental bull by the horns.

Electric ATVs are here and what better time to hop on board the green train!

Meet the E-Force

Built in Ellicottville, New York, south of Buffalo, the E-Force electric ATV plans to take the electric ATV market by storm; albeit a quieter more surreptitious storm. Dubbed as the first ever all-electric, non-polluting, stealthy quiet ATV, the E-Force is the first of its kind to enter the off-roading market, offering a green alternative with distinct advantages over its gas-guzzling competition.

E-force owners Bill Northrup and Philip Kurlander saw a niche and wanted to fill it. Northrup’s father was already a pioneer in Western New York, having started Holliday Valley ski resort, in Ellicottville, back in 1956. "We saw great potential to help stimulate a depressed manufacturing work force with the E-Force," says Northrup, former CEO of Ellicottville Energy; the sustainable, efficient energies company he developed and he ran for a decade before selling.

Northrup`s company uses patented green technology to create its E-Force resulting in a powerful, rechargeable, zero-emission electric ATV. E-Force electric ATVs are assembled in Ellicottville using components made in Buffalo, electric motors manufactured a short piece away in Syracuse, and imported ATV frames. The E-force Eco Electric ATV retails for $7,195 USD.

For more information: http://www.ecoeatv.com/

Polaris Ranger EV

Not to be outdone, Polaris Inc, already a big player in the quad market, entered the ‘Green ATV’ arena last year with the introduction of its midsize Ranger EV.  The popular recreational vehicle manufacturer out of Medina, Minnesota is becoming a force in the electric ATV/side-by-side market as well. The Ranger EV is a fully green off-road ATV/UTV, powered by a single 48-Volt, high-efficiency AC Induction motor capable of producing 30 HP. Compared to conventional fossil fuel ATVs, the Ranger EV is super clean, environmentally friendly and most exciting for hunters, it is whisper quiet! The EV is powerful too; capable of hauling 500 pounds payload, and a towing capacity of 1500 pounds. This smooth-running green machine can travel between 35-45 miles when fully charged, and takes only 8 hours to recharge.

Mike Speetzen, Polaris’s CEO explained the "push for green" led the way for their Ranger EV. “With the rising interest in electrified vehicles,” Speetzen says, "we are investing in electrification in order to meet the needs of current customers as well as appeal to tomorrow’s riders.” 

Polaris, evidently, did not rest on their laurels. The company is currently working on a new full-size version of the EV, with an upgraded motor and improved battery life. Mike Speetzen claims, “The all-new electric Ranger is our latest effort aimed at leading the industry forward in electrified powersports vehicles.” 

Greener gets bigger

The Ranger EV is a full-size ATV built with input from avid ATVers.

The new Ranger EV Fullsize is due to hit the market in spring 2022 and according to CEO Speetzen is engineered based on customer feedback. “They’ve expressed very specific unmet needs, and our new electric full-size will effectively address them, unlocking a truly enhanced off-road experience," he says. 

Canadian Prototype in the works

What's more Canadian than a Canadian-made electric snowmobile? 

Taiga is the brainchild of Montreal’s McGill University Engineer students who developed the first-ever electric snowmobile. With help from McGill’s Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, the students won a $15,000 prize in the Dobson Cup’s innovation category and Taiga was born! “The prize gave us legitimacy in the eyes of a lot of investors,” says Samual Bruneau, Taiga owner. The company since moved operations to Shawinigan, between Montreal and Quebec City, where they build their all-electric snow machine, as well as the Orca, an electric personal watercraft (PWC). Keep an eye on Taiga as it works on developing a prototype electric ATV, hoping to enter the green ATV market.

For more information on Taiga: https://taigamotors.ca/

tesla cyberquad

The Cyberquad prototype on display at a Tesla event. It's been pointed out that it looks to have been built by swapping out parts on a Yamaha Raptor.  

What about the world's buzziest electric car manufacturer? Does Tesla make ATVs? Well, not yet. In 2019 the manufacturer announced the Cyberquad electric ATV would be available for purchase as an optional accessory for its new Cybertruck. Production is scheduled to begin on the ATV and truck at Tesla's Austin plant which officially opened in the spring of 2022. With an estimated price of $69,900 USD ($92,700 CAD) for the truck alone, it's going to be a pretty pricey add-on option for any potential ATV owner. Unless you want the child-sized cyberquad for kids* which retails at $1,900 USD (2,400 CAN). We'll see what happens. File this under: one to watch. 

*Tesla's youth ATV was recently the subject of a recall due to it not meeting federal safety standards. 

electric ATV Etiquette & Safety 

ATV etiquette should be a consideration, even when driving ‘green.’ Remember to avoid sensitive wetlands or bog areas while travelling off-road, and avoid cutting trees and shrubs to improve your path. Consideration for other riders is also important, like clearing the travel way when stopping your vehicle on a trail, so riders may pass. All passengers must wear helmets and your vehicle must be registered, plated and insured while driving off-road in Ontario.

Electric ATVs are the way of the future and may someday even replace conventional off-road vehicles. What a wonderfully quiet and serene north woods it would be with only electric vehicles around. 

See you soon in the great outdoors—now quieter and cleaner than ever.

About Jeff Morrison

Jeff Morrison is an award-winning outdoor writer, book author, and nationally-syndicated newspaper and magazine columnist.

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