In the world of off-road all propulsion, electric power is nothing new.
However, is it truly ever going to become the primary type of UTV or side-by-side for the future?
Things are turning towards electricity in the automotive industry, and while the fuel source certainly hasn’t gone mainstream, it seems that inevitably all vehicles will become electric.
In the world of ATVs and side-by-side, exactly how is this going to work?
There are many arguments for and against electric side-by-sides and whether it’s a good idea or a bad one. Ultimately there are lots of factors to consider when making this decision, and inevitably there will be pros and cons of electric UTVs.
Below we’ll take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of electric UTVs and why you should be investing in them.
Benefits of electric UTV/ATV’s
Perhaps one of the main advantages of electric vehicles is that they are significantly silent. This is especially beneficial if you’re using your UTV on hunting expeditions.
Aside from the sound of the tires on the ground, and a faint hum from the electric motor, you hear almost nothing else when you press down on the pedal.
This is also beneficial for the city workers who need to get it on many state parks where gas motors cause a major disturbance.
Electric vehicles are generally not considered performance machines, but the power they do possess is available as soon as you hit the accelerator.
Unlike gas-powered motors, electric motors allow you to get 100% off the torque instantly.
Electric UTV models also benefit from a lack of emissions.
There is no pollution generated while driving the UTV. However, the battery still needs to be charged, and the source used to do that will most likely not be 100% clean. However, it’s a lot less expensive than filling up with gas.
Another benefit of electric UTV models is maintenance. Electric motors have fewer moving parts, which means fewer things that can break and wear out. You also don’t have to worry about changing oil, spark plugs, or fuel filters.
When it comes to charge time, it probably won’t take longer than overnight to get your machine fully charged. This means you can use up the battery, go to sleep, and by the morning, be back out riding.
Having a concentrated weight can be a good thing if it’s positioned low in the machine.
The battery packs on electric UTVs are normally built into the floor with the lowest frame rails, while electric motors are built right into the wheels, ultimately ensuring that your CG is very low.
Ultimately this sticks these machines to the ground. Additionally, electricity produces instant torque, so getting all of that weight moving should not be an issue.
Another advantage of electric UTVs is the price. Thus far, the automotive industry has shown that you can sell electric versions of UTVs at competitive prices.
Additionally, as battery technologies continue to progress, the price should only get cheaper.
Performance-wise, electricity can deliver all the torque that is needed by UTV, and it can do this at once. So when it comes to pulling, climbing, hauling, and pushing, there should be no issues, especially if you have a big enough battery pack.
And while not in use, electric vehicles are some of the quickest out there. Electric vehicles are also not affected by altitude, so in theory, any side by side can go into infinitely deep water as they don’t need air to operate.
Range of electric UTV
Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of the electric side by side is the range. Currently, one of the side-by-sides that claims to have the greatest range is the Nikola NZT.
In fact, it claims to be able to reach 90 – 150 miles of hard-core riding conditions. Aside from that, the rest of the electric side-by-sides such as the Textron Prowler EV and the Polaris Ranger EV give you 45 – 50 miles of range.
What this basically means is it has enough range to spend the day on your own property or on a farm and get all your chores done. Although you will need to plan where and how far you are going.
The bad news is that you can’t venture very far away from the charging station as you stand the risk of running out of juice. So ultimately, when it comes to electric side-by-side’s, range definitely needs to improve before they become mainstream.
Cons of electric UTV’s
While there are a number of benefits of electric you UTVs, there are some significant drawbacks as well that’s worth considering. Perhaps at the top of the list is the cost of entry.
Replacing a gas-powered machine with an electric power plant and expensive batteries is going to cost a lot. A similar gas-powered UTV could set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars more.
You may be able to recover purchase costs with money saved at the pump; however, one thing that is hard to ignore is the limited range. At this point, electric vehicles will not take you very far at all or not as far as electric options.
You can’t just carry an extra tank of fuel along with you. You also need to bear in mind that the advertised range on an electric UTV is what’s expected with a best-case scenario. However, if you are a pedal masher, expect that range to decrease significantly.
Charge time is also another factor to consider. Ultimately, you can only really get one full charge in a day, so don’t expect to go out riding all morning and charge up the vehicle to hit the trails again on the same day.
Why electric side-by-side for heavy, this also means that they’ll always feel slow, and as the weight increases, the range consequently decreases. You will eventually reach a point where you won’t be able to add more batteries to increase range.
Perhaps one thing to love about internal combustion engines is the sound. Racing through the woods on a high rpm is a beautiful and aggressive way to spend your time; however, when you take away the sound, it makes riding these machines a little bit boring.
As I mentioned earlier, electric UTVs are competitively priced. However, why you would want to pay a competitive price for a machine that has a limited range and long charge time is the question.
These machines logically should be cheaper than the competition based on their performance, practicality, and the expensive price of batteries.
Electric UTVs have the ability to release all the torque at once. Pushing these vehicles will kill the batteries in a very short period of time.
However, this sounds like a security risk, and more like the machine is trying to kill you. On a traditional UTV, having ice with a belt-driven CVT is more progressive and helps to keep things in check.
Popular Electric UTVs
Polaris Ranger EV
The Polaris Ranger EV is an electric UTV that emerged nine years ago and is still on the market today.
Very few updates and modifications have been made since its inception, and it’s powered by a single 48 volt AC induction motor that delivers approximately 30 horsepower.
It also has a 1000 pound payload capacity, 500-pound cargo bed capacity, 1500 pound towing capacity, and 10 inches of ground clearance.
Additionally, it includes MacPherson Strut suspension with 9.0 inches of travel and dual A-arm independent rear suspension with 9.0 inches of travel. It’s on the market for approximately $11,899.
Arctic Cat Prowler EV & EV iS
This electric UTV offers an electric-powered option that produces the four-passenger Arctic Cat Prowler EV and Prowler EV iS. Both of these models are powered by a 92 Volt AC induction motor and delivers 38 horsepower.
Some additional features include 1000 pound towing capacity, 840 point payload capacity, 400-pound cargo load capacity, and a full-time four-wheel-drive.
It also has .5 inches of ground clearance and offers a solid 16.5-inch ground clearance. The Arctic cat prowler EV is on the market for $20,499, and the EV iS goes for $13,499.
If you’re one of those electric UTV enthusiasts that have been waiting for a high-performance electric sport UTV, then this one is just for you.
However, you need to wait a little longer as they are not quite ready for production. When we say high performance, we are referring to a performance that has never been seen before in electric UTVs.
This model uses four independent motors one at the wheel and combined provides ridiculous 590 hp and 775 pound-feet of torque. Ultimately this can take you anywhere from 0 to 60 miles an hour in just four seconds, according to Nikola.
This exorbitant power is credited to the 125KWH lithium-ion battery pack. When it comes to suspension, the FOX podium internal bypass on all five shocks can be found in all four corners and offers 18 inches of travel.
This machine offers an astounding thousand pounds of towing capacity as well as 13 inch infotainment screen and 7 inch cast.
A less daunting power plant is available, which has a 188 kW drivetrain and 200 hp. The company says that pricing will start at $8000, and production is scheduled to begin in 2021.