snowmobile

First Ride: The World’s Only All-Electric Production Snowmobile Is on the Right Track

First Ride: The World’s Only All-Electric Production Snowmobile Is on the Right Track

In the dead of winter, a place like Stowe, Vt., is traditionally hell for electric vehicles. Frigid temperatures dramatically slow down a battery’s internal chemical reaction necessary for performance, and, as a result, both power and range take a beating. Yet here I am, blasting down a Green Mountain State trail in February, full send, on a Taiga—the world’s first all-electric production snowmobile.

Named after the moniker for subarctic conifer forests, the Taiga offers plenty of output and little range anxiety. Has Taiga made some breakthrough in battery technology to make this possible? Is it cold fusion? Black magic? Nope. It’s all just owed to a few sled-enthusiasts with a novel engineering solution.

The all-electric Taiga Nomad snowmobile. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Much like they are in every other vehicle segment, EVs are advancing into the world of power sports in a big way, and establishing a genre-busting reputation. Generally, EV performance is comparable to that of counterparts relying on the internal-combustion engine (ICE), but while charge times are plummeting and charge-point locations are increasing, EVs still face an uphill climb when it comes to accessibility and practicality outside of urban settings. All of that makes snowmobiles the last thing you want to have powered solely by battery, right? An all-electric snowmobile should, for all intents and purposes, fail miserably. Fortunately, Samuel Bruneau, founder and CEO of Canada-based Taiga Motors, saw things a little differently.
“With where battery technology is now, it’s a great time for power sports,” says Bruneau, as we stand in an open and snow-covered clearing. “The weight is down, the charge times are down and the power is up. Performance-wise, we’re close to our ICE counterparts.” Well, yes and no.

The nearly 700-pound Nomad has 90 hp and 125 ft lbs of torque. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Pricing on the Taiga Nomad, the model I’m testing, starts at $17,490, which is quite high for a sled with only 90 hp and a 62-mile range. For a Ski-Doo or Arctic Cat near that price, you can expect to get at least 50 percent more power, more than double the range and a lighter vehicle.
With EVs, however, the cost is mostly up front, with very little additional investment required on maintenance due to the fact there’s less to break with so few moving parts. The mindset marked by the old adage that “only mechanics can own snowmobiles” is, according to Bruneau, “coming to an end.” With the cost of maintenance significantly lower, and improved reliability, snowmobiles are starting to entice a larger audience.

Thanks to the battery layout, the 50/50 weight distribution on the Taiga Nomad translates to balance and predictability. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Performance can still be a sticking point, especially in the power-sports circles. But you have to alter your perception. The Nomad may only have 90 hp (the two sportier Taiga models each have 120 hp), but it also has 125 ft lbs of torque that’s instantly available. This keeps the nearly 700-pound Nomad fairly rapid over loose snow, and helps it tow up to 1,125 pounds.
But how does the Taiga hold on to its battery’s performance despite the cold weather? Engine-block heaters or, in this case, battery-pack heaters are the answer. It adds some weight but regulates the battery temperature to ensure it doesn’t drop below optimum. And to keep the battery from getting too hot from extended use, the solution is even simpler—though not as obvious as you’d think.

Taiga’s Nomad has a 62-mile range after a full charge. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

The battery pack lies flat, running the length of the sled and covered mostly from above by the cockpit, bodywork and riders. This leaves few ways to simply air-cool the battery. Taiga’s fix is to utilize the snow that flies off the tread as a natural coolant as it hits the deliberately exposed rear section of the battery. It’s simple, efficient and effective.
The battery architecture of the Taiga models also gives them signature handling characteristics out on the trail. With the battery’s weight evenly spread front to rear, there’s a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. On the trail, that translates to balance and predictability.
Given we were seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t ignore the idea of running out of battery power and getting stranded. Bruneau said the company is already leading an initiative to change that. Taiga is on its way to building hundreds of charge points all over North America, focusing on the remote places its customers might need them. And that includes mountains where ski resorts like Stowe just signed up to buy a fleet for the ski patrol.

With 120 hp, the Taiga Ekko is also a zero-emissions sled. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Not only is the lack of noise pollution (and regular pollution), lower maintenance costs and usability attractive to big ski resorts, Bruneau says the performance and battery characteristics suit ski patrol duties perfectly. “Like most riders, ski patrol goes out on short trips up and down the mountain with a few trails in between, but a ride rarely exceeds 62 miles, or even 30 minutes. They go out, come back in, plug in, charge and never worry about range.”

One number that’s crucial is charge time. For EVs, that number is tumbling by the day. And with a level-three charger, you can get your Taiga from zero to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes. According to Bruneau, between the range and the battery charge time, that equates to a decent trail ride, a stop for lunch, another charge and then a second trail session before the average rider is done for the day.

Plugged into a level-three charger, the Taiga Nomad can go from zero to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

At this point in time, both EVs and traditionally powered machines are coexisting, and Taiga doesn’t expect to replace gas-burning snowmobiles—they don’t want to. Similar to selecting a car from Tesla or a bike from Zero Motorcycles, owning a Taiga offers a different experience. It’s not necessarily better or worse, but it does present an alternative that’s more conducive to protecting the outdoors and leaving less of a footprint. And ultimately, that’s more important than the horsepower count—although a few more would be nice.

First Ride: Taiga’s Nomad, the World’s Only All-Electric Production Snowmobile, Shows Why It’s a True Trailblazer

First Ride: Taiga’s Nomad, the World’s Only All-Electric Production Snowmobile, Shows Why It’s a True Trailblazer

In the dead of winter, a place like Stowe, Vt., is traditionally hell for electric vehicles. Frigid temperatures dramatically slow down a battery’s internal chemical reaction necessary for performance, and, as a result, both power and range take a beating. Yet here I am, blasting down a Green Mountain State trail in February, full send, on a Taiga—the world’s first all-electric production snowmobile.

Named after the moniker for subarctic conifer forests, the Taiga offers plenty of output and little range anxiety. Has Taiga made some breakthrough in battery technology to make this possible? Is it cold fusion? Black magic? Nope. It’s all just owed to a few sled-enthusiasts with a novel engineering solution.

The all-electric Taiga Nomad snowmobile. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Much like they are in every other vehicle segment, EVs are advancing into the world of power sports in a big way, and establishing a genre-busting reputation. Generally, EV performance is comparable to that of counterparts relying on the internal-combustion engine (ICE), but while charge times are plummeting and charge-point locations are increasing, EVs still face an uphill climb when it comes to accessibility and practicality outside of urban settings. All of that makes snowmobiles the last thing you want to have powered solely by battery, right? An all-electric snowmobile should, for all intents and purposes, fail miserably. Fortunately, Samuel Bruneau, founder and CEO of Canada-based Taiga Motors, saw things a little differently.
“With where battery technology is now, it’s a great time for power sports,” says Bruneau, as we stand in an open and snow-covered clearing. “The weight is down, the charge times are down and the power is up. Performance-wise, we’re close to our ICE counterparts.” Well, yes and no.

The nearly 700-pound Nomad has 90 hp and 125 ft lbs of torque. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Pricing on the Taiga Nomad, the model I’m testing, starts at $17,490, which is quite high for a sled with only 90 hp and a 62-mile range. For a Ski-Doo or Arctic Cat near that price, you can expect to get at least 50 percent more power, more than double the range and a lighter vehicle.
With EVs, however, the cost is mostly up front, with very little additional investment required on maintenance due to the fact there’s less to break with so few moving parts. The mindset marked by the old adage that “only mechanics can own snowmobiles” is, according to Bruneau, “coming to an end.” With the cost of maintenance significantly lower, and improved reliability, snowmobiles are starting to entice a larger audience.

Thanks to the battery layout, the 50/50 weight distribution on the Taiga Nomad translates to balance and predictability. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Performance can still be a sticking point, especially in the power-sports circles. But you have to alter your perception. The Nomad may only have 90 hp (the two sportier Taiga models each have 120 hp), but it also has 125 ft lbs of torque that’s instantly available. This keeps the nearly 700-pound Nomad fairly rapid over loose snow, and helps it tow up to 1,125 pounds.
But how does the Taiga hold on to its battery’s performance despite the cold weather? Engine-block heaters or, in this case, battery-pack heaters are the answer. It adds some weight but regulates the battery temperature to ensure it doesn’t drop below optimum. And to keep the battery from getting too hot from extended use, the solution is even simpler—though not as obvious as you’d think.

Taiga’s Nomad has a 62-mile range after a full charge. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

The battery pack lies flat, running the length of the sled and covered mostly from above by the cockpit, bodywork and riders. This leaves few ways to simply air-cool the battery. Taiga’s fix is to utilize the snow that flies off the tread as a natural coolant as it hits the deliberately exposed rear section of the battery. It’s simple, efficient and effective.
The battery architecture of the Taiga models also gives them signature handling characteristics out on the trail. With the battery’s weight evenly spread front to rear, there’s a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. On the trail, that translates to balance and predictability.
Given we were seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t ignore the idea of running out of battery power and getting stranded. Bruneau said the company is already leading an initiative to change that. Taiga is on its way to building hundreds of charge points all over North America, focusing on the remote places its customers might need them. And that includes mountains where ski resorts like Bolton Valley just signed up to buy a fleet for the ski patrol and mountain operations.

With 120 hp, the Taiga Ekko is also a zero-emissions sled. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

Not only is the lack of noise pollution (and regular pollution), lower maintenance costs and usability attractive to big ski resorts, Bruneau says the performance and battery characteristics suit ski patrol duties perfectly. “Like most riders, ski patrol goes out on short trips up and down the mountain with a few trails in between, but a ride rarely exceeds 62 miles, or even 30 minutes. They go out, come back in, plug in, charge and never worry about range.”

One number that’s crucial is charge time. For EVs, that number is tumbling by the day. And with a level-three charger, you can get your Taiga from zero to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes. According to Bruneau, between the range and the battery charge time, that equates to a decent trail ride, a stop for lunch, another charge and then a second trail session before the average rider is done for the day.

Plugged into a level-three charger, the Taiga Nomad can go from zero to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes. 

Photo by Vinci Visuals, courtesy of Taiga Motors.

At this point in time, both EVs and traditionally powered machines are coexisting, and Taiga doesn’t expect to replace gas-burning snowmobiles—they don’t want to. Similar to selecting a car from Tesla or a bike from Zero Motorcycles, owning a Taiga offers a different experience. It’s not necessarily better or worse, but it does present an alternative that’s more conducive to protecting the outdoors and leaving less of a footprint. And ultimately, that’s more important than the horsepower count—although a few more would be nice.

Meet the Cyberkat, a Miniature Remote-Controlled EV Designed to Help You Clear Snow

Meet the Cyberkat, a Miniature Remote-Controlled EV Designed to Help You Clear Snow

Tesla’s Cybertruck has encountered a number of delays on the road to production, but that hasn’t stopped the highly anticipated polygonal pickup from inspiring a myriad of new concepts along the way. The latest of these is a miniature, remote-controlled snowcat designed to help you clear snow in the depth of winter.

The aptly named CyberKat was penned by Ryan Butler of the startup Spyker Workshop. With a sharp, angular silhouette and very few curves, the sleek electric vehicle is the mirror image of its muse but is fitted with wide tracks that allow it to cut through a thick white blanket of snow.

Sporting a plasma-cut aluminum frame, the CyberKat spans 29 inches long by 19 inches wide and has a ground clearance of 4.25 inches that enables it to glide across uneven terrain. As for power, the CyberKat runs on a standard 775 electric motor and four 12-volt batteries. The aluminum transmission, meanwhile, can be easily set to high speed or high torque modes, according to Spyker Workshop. While the startup hasn’t provided any figures regarding power or speed, a video shows the CyberKat prowling through the snow seemingly without problems.

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The coolest part, though, has to be the CyBlower. This nifty attachment, which is still in development, can be mounted to the CyberKat’s trailer hitch to help blow away snow in a snap. Think of it as a snowblower on wheels that you can control from the comfort of your living room. You can also use the hitch to pull a wagon or wheeled cooler, for instance. To top it off, the CyberKat is fitted with light bars like the original Cybertruck that give it a futuristic feel.
The CyberKat starts at $1,299, but you’ll need to fork out an additional $120 for the electronics kit to power it and another $80 for the optional radio. The first models are currently estimated to start shipping in January or February 2022, which means the CyberKat will likely beat the Cybertruck to market. (Tesla’s truck is due to arrive sometime next year.)
And while it won’t set you back as much as the recently announced Snowbot, the kicker is that you will have to build this beast yourself. Hey, there’s nothing like a good DIY project to kick off the new year.
Check out more photos below:

Spyker Workshop

Spyker Workshop

Spyker Workshop

Spyker Workshop

This 80-Year-Old Bombardier B-7 Snowmobile Still Runs—and Now It Can Be Yours

This 80-Year-Old Bombardier B-7 Snowmobile Still Runs—and Now It Can Be Yours

Spring may have just arrived, but at least one vehicle going up for auction at Bonhams’s next sale may have you longing for winter’s return.

Impossible, you say. Wait until you check out the 80-year-old Bombardier B-7 snowmobile. Set to hit the block late next month at the auction house’s  Amelia Island auction, the restored snow cruiser will have even the most cold-averse among us wishing for a thick snow fall so they can take it out for a spin.

Bombardier B-7 seven-passenger snowmobile 

Although the B-7 was born out of a family tragedy—inventor Joseph-Armand Bombardier’s young son died during the winter because no vehicle could safely transport him through the snow—it’s also a dazzling creation. The vehicle, which was referred to at the time as a “snow coach,” looks like an old-fashion family wagon with skis and tank treads in place of its wheels, so that it can “float over the snow.” After being introduced in 1935, the vehicle proved to be a hit, and by the end of the decade, the Canadian company had built more than 100 examples.

This restored model, chassis no. 18-5932072, hails from the early 1940s. It’s finished in bright blue with thin white pin-striping and has two round headlights perched atop its hood. The interior—which, like all B-7s, has room for seven—features gorgeous renewed woodwork, completely refurbished seating and a heating system, although it’s unclear if it works.

Inside the Bombardier B-7 

The B-7 is undoubtedly one of the coolest-looking snowmobiles of all time, but it also has a surprising amount of power. It may not be as quick as some of today’s snowmobiles, but its 3.6-liter Ford flathead V-8 had some serious grunt for the time. Thanks to a three-speed manual gearbox, the engine was able to send 90 hp to the rear treads—nothing too crazy but more than enough to cut through the snow with ease.

While it’s best suited for display in a museum, Bonhams says the blue B-7 is still in running order. That alone may make it impossible to resist when the vehicle goes up for bid on May 20. The auction house expects the beautiful snowmobile to fetch between $30,000 to $40,000. That may be steep for something you can only drive in the snow, but think about how much fun you’ll have showing it off.

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