You will agree with me that we are hearing more and more about electrification and the use of “green” technologies in transportation. This trend is fueled, among other things, by the impacts of global warming, on our climate as well as on current and future increases in fuel prices.
Today, the automotive industry is undergoing a major transformation with the emergence of much more efficient technologies. All car manufacturers already offer some hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric models. They continue to invest heavily in developing and refining “green” technologies.
The off-road vehicle industry is no exception to this trend. Polaris offers the Ranger EV and Ranger XP Kinetic, which are 100% electric. Can-Am has promised an electric quad by 2026. Other lesser-known manufacturers are also about to deliver their first 100% electric quads. One need only think of the Quebec manufacturer Theron, for example. We can already assume that all the other manufacturers are also working on electric quad models.
Segway Powersports has taken a different approach. The manufacturer offers hybrid-powered models in each of the quad families it produces. For now, these models are not available in Canada, but it’s only a matter of time. In the U.S., they can be seen on the manufacturer’s website.
100% electric drive
In the best of all possible worlds, electric-powered quads would be ideal. For this to become feasible on a large scale, several conditions must first be met.
First, it is obvious that the quads will have to have a good range. If possible, a range similar to that of gasoline-powered quads. The second condition is also very obvious. Indeed, a solid network of charging stations accessible from the trails will have to be set up. Here, both the number of locations and the quantity of charging stations will have to be adequate.
The third requirement is driving or operating experience. These models must be designed in such a way that they are comparable to gasoline models.
Indeed, if the trail riding experience is not enjoyable for ATV riders, they will definitely shun electric quads. I would say that nothing is interesting about feeling like you are driving a pallet of bricks!
There may be some aspects that I’m not mentioning here, but these three elements are definitely the main ones. An example of this is the impact that cold weather will have on battery life in winter…
Hybrid drive – a compromise solution
While waiting for electric drive technologies to be developed and brought to market, opting for a hybrid drive seems to be a good compromise. Segway Powersports is banking on this solution, combining gasoline and electric propulsion advantages. On the technological side, this poses certain ergonomic problems. Indeed, one must provide space for the gas engine, the electric motorization, the gas tank and finally the batteries. All this is without counting the systems that allow the simultaneous or independent use of each of the propulsion modes.
On the practical side, as long as you have gasoline in the tank, you will never run out of gas. The gasoline engine can be used both to propel the vehicle and to recharge the batteries.
Segway seems to have won its bet in this respect and this could be a big advantage for it in the coming years. Its first hybrid models should be available in Canada in 2024. A robust hybrid offering will give the manufacturer time to develop 100% electric models to remain competitive.
The future looks electrifying!
In my opinion, the next 5 years will be very eventful. Many 100% electric models will arrive on the market. We can’t wait to find out about their capabilities and range.
The development of the charging station network will also have to be greatly accelerated over the next 5 years. It will have to be ready to meet the demand to allow the number of sales of electric quads to increase significantly.
I will keep a close eye on the new electric products that will be offered by major manufacturers such as Can-Am and Polaris. They have surprised us over the years and I have a feeling they will continue to do so in the future. For a columnist like me, this assures me that I won’t run out of interesting things to write about in the coming years!