Zero Motorcycles and Polaris Are Teaming Up to Build Electric Snowmobiles and Off-Road Vehicles

The biggest name in electric motorcycles is joining forces with a powersports titan.

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Electricity is the future of transportation. Sure, gasoline isn't likely to vanish entirely anytime soon, but as battery technology matures, the advantages of electron power quickly begin to outweigh those of fossil fuels. And while that transition is most obvious in the world of passenger cars, it's likely to reach into every corner of the transportation world eventually.

Need proof? Zero Motorcycles has announced it's joining forces with powersports powerhouse Polaris to create an array of electric snowmobiles, off-road vehicles, and other motorized toys.

Under the agreement, announced on September 29th and extending through until 2030, Polaris will use Zero's powertrain technology to create electric versions of all their key products: snowmobiles and off-road vehicles. The two brands aim to have EV versions of those models in the Polaris lineup in showrooms by 2025, with the first fruits of their joint works dropping from the tree by the end of next year.

Of course, as with electric motorcycles, the big question at the start of the Zero/Polaris joint venture will be the level of consumer interest in EV snowmobiles.

“I think it’s gonna be very important to a lot of people,” Polaris chairman and CEO Scott Wine told The Verge in an interview. “I also think there’s a lot of my current customers that don’t give a crap.”

Electric snowmobiles, in particular, would seem to present a technical challenge for the two brands. Lithium-ion batteries of the type found in electric cars and motorcycles are not particularly fond of low temperatures — EVs often lose substantial range in chilly weather, and as they don't generate their own waste heat the way thermally inefficient internal-combustion engines do, more of their power needs to be spent keeping the system (and, in cars, the cabin) at operating temperature.

Still, considering powersports buyers are often using their toys to enjoy the great outdoors, the appeal of quiet zero-emissions powerplants that don't mask the sounds or scents of nature will likely appeal to a broad spectrum of people — once they've had a chance to sample them, at least. In any case, we're looking forward to sampling the first Zero/Polaris EVs come next year.

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