It’s no secret that EV (Electric Vehicles) are becoming bigger and better day by day. It’s also no secret that in some cultures, such as off-road/racing the movement is being met with speculation and even laughter. Even us here at Dirt Chronicles are a bit skeptic. There are the old school purists that want to hear the loud motors, and smell the burnt petrol as the vehicle screams by – and trust us we love that too! We also need to give new technology a thought and maybe even a small chance. Perhaps let these vehicles prove themselves. In 2004 Yamaha released one of the first UTV/SXS vehicles, the Rhino. It was a fun vehicle used to haul loads around, but were sometimes laughed at when taken to the desert. Eventually as with anything that moves, people began to hype up the performance, drop sportbike motors in them and begin racing then. Polaris soon took note, and the RZR was born…. The rest is history, as the birth of an entire new industry. Polaris is now a multi billion dollar company, with the RZR being its own brand, similar to Dodge and Ram. Nearly all major powersport companies have followed suit. The point is, these vehicles were met with laughter as well, only 15 short years ago. Today, if you spend anytime off-roading you either own one, or know someone that does. They are undoubtedly a very fun vehicle, and have completely blown up some of the racing circuits (maybe even saved some from collapsing) with the amount of entrees. It’s also opened the door to MANY more youth races, thus keeping our sport alive.
So why not give the electric versions a shot? Everything else seems to be going that route IE: Trucks, Cars, Semis, etc. One of the biggest bits of skepticism is by far the distance these vehicles can travel on a single charge. Some can only go a couple several dozen miles until they are out of commission for hours while recharging. While that’s great around the farm and fun on the weekends, can they survive in an extended off-road race like the The Mint 400, or the Baja 1000? “So you swap the batteries out during pitting” It’s not that easy. From what we’ve seen they are not cheap at all, and not exactly as quick as topping off your fuel cell. What we can agree on is the amount of horsepower and torque these machines are able to produce. Some of these numbers are staggering.
Before we dive into the racing Electric UTV, let’s take a look at some Electric UTVs that are hitting the market purely for weekend pleasure. The silent drive system will definitely work to the hunters advantage, and the minimal moving parts is a huge plus for those not very mechanical, but we can point and laugh at those guys later when they are stuck in the middle of nowhere for whatever reason. There is no reason to get into great detail on measurements, brakes, interior, etc. If you’re truly interested we are confident you’ll do more research. We are simply giving you a brief rundown of a few market options in no particular order.
2021 Polaris Ranger EV
Starting off we have the 2021 Polaris Ranger EV. You can maximize your chances of hunting success with more stealthy entry and exit, while still having the capability to get to remote hunting spots. Although the 30 HP it produces is not going to help with the critics comments. There is minimal info about this vehicle out there, but we are also seeing that Polaris is hinting at something big for December 2021, even a full size electric option.
- Starting at: $11,899
- 1000LB Payload Capacity
- 1500LB Towing Capacity
2021 Hisun Sector E1
Next we take a look at Hisun motors based in Texas, and they’ve engineered something pretty cool. With an even lower HP rate than the polaris at 27hp and 220lb-ft of torque the electric motor in the Hisun doesn’t seem like a great choice, but that’s also depending on what you’re intending on using it for. Besides your dog and firearm, this might be your best hunting companion with ultra-quiet operation. Available in 2WD & 4WD She might be great for utility, but you won’t be winning any races. Not sure why anyone would choose a 2WD UTV to be honest. However critics have pointed out that it is quieter than the Polaris Ranger EV, so there’s another plus for the hunting community
- Starting at: $11,299
- 500LB Payload Capacity
- 1500LB Towing Capacity
- 6-10 Hour Charge Time
So it’s time to step out of utility, and into performance. Introducing the Vanderhall Navarro. Vanderhall is not known for the electric vehicles, but they sure have engineered something incredible with the Navarro. It offers climate control, 35 in tires, and four individually controlled electric motors.
- Starting at: $25950
- 500LB – Torque
- 200 Mile Capacity
- Up to 80% Charge in Under an Hour
Of course when you’re talking about Electric Vehicles, Nikola can’t be overlooked. This UTV is a complete game changer! A company that is beginning to launch their electric Pick-up trucks had to get into the UTV game. This vehicle takes what we’ve previously discussed and puts it on steroids. Here is your racing vehicle many have been looking for. Want that high performance, well here you go. It will be the most powerful side by side on the market electric or gas. The Nikola includes 18 in of suspension travel and Fox 3.0 Internal Bypass Shocks, so it should feel right at home on high speed desert whoops, but weighing over 5000LBs is not a plus. With 4 electric motors and 35 inch kevlar reinforced wheels, the Nikola outshines the competition – but you’ll be paying for it.
- Starting at: $80,000
- 775LB of Torque (yes, you are reading these numbers correctly)
- 3000LB Towing
- 1260LB Payload Capacity
- 150 Mile Range
- 2 Hour Charge Time on a 240V Outlet
Electric UTV Disadvantages
Many of these vehicles have minimal information as it’s a very new industry. More details seems to get released monthly and even weekly. As we mentioned previously there are many advantages of going electric, but there are things to consider before making the switch. The battery sizes needed to power these UTVs generally make an electric utv heavier than its gas rival. The second disadvantage is the cost, this is not cheap technology, but like many technological breakthroughs we hope the cost will come down quickly. Generally with going electric you’ll have to pay the cost up front and earn your money back through a lack of maintenance expenses and reduced energy costs.
The gap between gas and electric UTVs have narrowed to the point where it makes sense to start considering the switch. With more and more companies spending money on developing electric drive systems and batteries, the performance and cost of these utvs will become more and more competitive.
• All Images Provided by the Manufactures