Polaris, one of the largest manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles, is the latest automotive company to announce ambitious electrification plans. The company, which makes everything from snowmobiles to ATVs and motorcycles, says it will offer electric versions of all of its vehicles by 2025.
Teaming up — That’s an aggressive timeline for a company that today sells only a tiny amount of electric vehicles, but Polaris isn’t going at it alone. Instead, it’s partnering with Zero Motorcycles, a popular maker of high-performance electric motorcycles like the Zero SR/F. The two companies recently signed a ten-year agreement in which Zero will supply its drivetrains to Polaris.
By partnering with Zero, Polaris can split its investment with a company that’s been developing electric drivetrains for more than a decade. And for Zero, it stands to gain because it will be able to sell its technology into a well-known brand of vehicles that are manufactured in mass quantities. The deal shows just how hard it is to electrify, though. If it were as easy as slapping a battery under the hood, Polaris wouldn’t have needed to partner.
Electric utility — Polaris already makes several EVs including the Ranger EV, a four-wheeled electric utility vehicle. That EV was first released in 2010 and has received strong reviews among buyers, despite its range of just 35 to 45 miles on a charge. The Ranger EV is best suited for small farms, but hunters also enjoy it for its near-silent drive. The Ranger EV can go from flat terrain to plowing through heavy mud without first needing to pick up speed, because electric powertrains can access the same amount of towing power at any speed.
Polaris is releasing a new version of the Ranger later this year, and in a recent video showed it off plowing through heavy snow and freezing temperatures with ease. It will be the first vehicle that Polaris releases with Zero tech.
Green appeal — Anyone who works outdoors often and cares about the environment seems like a good demographic for an electrified Polaris EV and can probably learn to understand the range of their vehicle.
Prices of battery packs have also come down a lot in recent years, meaning that electrified vehicles are finally becoming comparable in performance to their gas-powered forefathers, and at increasingly competitive prices. The cost of a battery pack was $1,000 per kWh just years ago, but today it can easily be more like $200.
Only two percent of Polaris’s sales come from electric vehicles today, but analysts predict it could reach 10 percent by 2030. Based on strong investor appetite for anything electric following Tesla’s ascent in the stock market, Polaris could stand to gain a lot.