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With winter weather here, the snowmobile season is fully in gear. If you hit the trail anytime this season, there’s a good chance you’ll see more of an emerging type of sled: the electric snowmobile. Curious to learn more about these increasingly popular snowy-weather EVs? Let’s take a look.

Snowmobiles are experiencing the “Tesla effect”

A Taiga electric snowmobile plugged into a charging station in Saint-Paulin, Quebec, Canada
A Taiga electric snowmobile charging | Richmond Lam/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Gas-powered snowmobiles have long dominated the winter offroading landscape, but that’s about to change in a major way. As The New York Times recently reported, the increasing electrification of cars is now spilling over into snowmobiles as well, in what the publication deems the “Tesla effect.” 

There are, in fact, already electric snowmobiles on the market, with more on the way in the near future. The first company to enter the market in a significant form was a Canadian startup called Taiga, which also produces electric watercraft. Taiga promotes the many advantages of electric snowmobiles over their gas-powered counterparts. Such pros include their environmental friendliness, quiet operation, and impressive speed. 

Taiga also acknowledges the challenges inherent in producing electric snowmobiles, including the fact that the extreme temperatures in which they’re driven can be hard on the sleds’ batteries. Until recently, those challenges had meant that Taiga had little competition willing to enter the EV snowmobile market. However, that’s now changing.

Taiga competitors in the electric snowmobile market

One major competitor for Taiga is BRP, a company based in Canada known for its Ski-Doo snowmobile. BRP, the largest snowmobile manufacturer out there, has recently announced that it plans to make electric versions of all its products by 2026. As José Boisjoli, BRP’s CEO, explained to The New York Times, “There is a trend out there driven by the automobile. We can’t ignore it.”

Here’s how the prices compare with gas-powered sleds

It will surprise no one to learn that electric vehicles don’t come cheap. As with electric-powered cars, the technology that makes electric snowmobiles possible comes with a higher price tag. A basic electric snowmobile currently starts at around $17,000, according to the NYT. By comparison, a prospective buyer can find a traditional gas-powered sled for under $10,000.

Of course, the advantages inherent in electric snowmobiles may make up for at least some of the cost differential. For one, electric snowmobiles don’t require the expenditures on gasoline that traditional models do. Additionally, EVs are often more reliable, meaning owners would spend significantly less on maintenance over the snowmobile’s lifetime. 

This isn’t to say that there are no drawbacks to riding an electric snowmobile. After all, no technology is perfect. One of the biggest drawbacks of electric snowmobiles is their range, typically anywhere from 80 to 110 miles. Given the lack of charging stations in the woods, this can create challenges for anyone hoping for a long-range snowmobile expedition.

All in all, though, the trend is clearly toward increasing offerings in the EV snowmobile market. Many are likely to find the advantages of these vehicles enticing enough to take the plunge themselves. 

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